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James J. Hodge

Associate Professor of English

Ph.D. University of Chicago


James J. Hodge (he/him/his, Ph.D. University of Chicago) specializes in digital media aesthetics across several contexts, including new media art, popular and experimental cinema, animation, and literature. Focusing also on media and critical theory he has special interests in phenomenology and psychoanalysis. He is also a core faculty member of the interschool PhD program in Rhetoric, Media, and Publics, and affiliate faculty in Art History and Screen Cultures.  

His research is broadly devoted to the question of how artistic forms express the incoherence of lived experience. His first book Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art (Minnesota, 2019) argues that animation becomes crucial for understanding the ways in which history changes in the digital age. His current book project, "Ordinary Media: An Aesthetics of Always-On Computing" examines a range of experimental and popular digital artworks in their capacity to express the felt dynamics of always-on computing: from depression and anxiety to sociability, productivity, and vulnerability. This and other recent work attend to the explosion of new networked genres such as supercuts, memes, selfies, and animated GIFs, and theorizes them as aesthetic strategies of provisional attunement to the vicissitudes of the historical present.

Hodge regularly collaborates across programs at Northwestern. For five years he has organized events on the topic of media aesthetics with Prof. Dilip Gaonkar (Communication Studies). These have included summer institutes, lectures, and graduate student conferences. In 2020 he co-taught an undergraduate seminar with Prof. Patrick Noonan (Asian Languages and Cultures) on the rise of neoliberal media cultures in Japan and the USA. In 2018 he co-curated an exhibition of artist and activist Paul Chan's video installation Happiness (finally) after 35,000 years of civilization at the Block Museum with Michael Metzger. In 2016-17 he co-organized a year-long research seminar at the Humanities Institute entitled "Ordinary Media" with Daniel Snelson (now at UCLA).

In 2023-2024 he is teaching four courses: a doctoral seminar on technologies of the self as well as a first-year seminar on the films of Jordan Peele in Fall 2023, and a first-year seminar on Alfred Hitchcock and an undergraduate seminar entitled "Fiction and the Internet" in Winter 2024.

Areas of Research and Teaching

Digital Media Studies; Digital Aesthetics; Media Theory and History; Film Theory and History; Literary and Critical Theory


Literary Theory, Film & Film Theory, Digital Media


Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art
Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2019)

Selected Publications

  • "Screwed: Anxiety and the Digital Ends of Anticipation," in Media Infrastructures and the Politics of Digital Time: Essays on Hardwired Temporalities, ed. Axel Volmar and Kyle Stine (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021).
  • "Vernaculars," in A Concise Companion to Visual Culture, ed. A. Joan Saab, Aubrey Anable, and Catherine Zuromskis (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2021).
  • "The Subject of Always-On Computing: Thomas Ogden's 'Autistic-Contiguous Position' and the Animated GIF," Parallax 26:1 (2020): 65–75.
  • "New Maps, New Poetics: New Works by Akihiko Miyoshi," Circuit Gallery, Toronto, September 2019.
  • "Touch," with C. A. Davis and John Bresland (video essay, 20 minutes), Triquarterly (December 3, 2018). watch the video
  • “Earth-Specific Art: Phenomenology and the Digital Cinema of Peter Bo Rappmund,” ASAP/Journal 2:3 (2017): 579–601.
  • "Digital Psycho: Dedramatizing the Historical Event," Critical Inquiry 43:4 (Summer 2017): 839–860.
  • "Sociable Media: Phatic Connection in Digital Art," Postmodern Culture 26:1 (September 2016): NP.
  • "Gifts of Ubiquity," Film Criticism 39:2 (Winter 2014-15): 53-78.
  • "New Media Art" (with Jacob Gaboury), Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies, ed. Krin Gabbard. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).