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College of Arts & Sciences
Film and Media Studies Program

Faculty & Staff Directory

Heidi Rae Cooley

Associate Professor
Film and Media Studies Program
University of South Carolina

Office: 337 McMaster College
Phone Number: (803) 777-3137
Heidi Cooley


  • Ph.D., Critical Studies/School of Cinema-Television, University of Southern California, 2007
  • M.A., Visual Studies, University of California, Irvine, 2003


Cooley’s scholarship is committed to pursuing a vital relation between theory and practice. Broadly speaking, she is interested in the articulation of poiesis (creative production), aesthesis (sensory knowing), and ethos (practice of living). In this regard, she writes about the inter-relations among technology, sociality, and living bodies. Her monograph Finding Augusta: Habit and Governance in the Digital Present (Dartmouth College Press 2014)--winner of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2015 Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award ( routine practices that define the mobile present. It argues that because digital technologies set places, persons, things, and information in constant motion, habits of locatability and navigation assume decisive social and political importance. As such, Cooley argues that we should attend to the everyday habits of finding places, persons, and information that mobile media encourage and discourage. Augusta App is the book’s digital supplement and is available for download from Apple’s App Store.

Cooley has published in the journal of visual culture, Spectator, and The Object Reader (Routledge 2009), as well as contributed to the online forum Flow ( She also edited and wrote the introduction for a themed issue of the journal of visual culture, titled "Ecologies of Practice" (December 2008). A revised version of the introduction appears in Depletion Design: A Glossary of Network Ecologies (2012). Most recently, Cooley has co-authored two articles with media theorist Nanna Verhoeff (Utrecht University)--with whom she is co-editing along with Heather Zwicker (University of Alberta) a themed issue, “Urban Cartographies,” for Journal of Television and Media Studies. Her five-year collaboration with computer scientist Duncan Buell has resulted in two co-authored articles, as well as a forthcoming essay to appear in the second volume of Debates in the Digital Humanities (ed. Jentery Sayers). The two have co-managed two NEH-funded projects and regularly team-teach a course called “Critical Interactives” ( 

Cooley’s current research project features American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce.


  • Critical Interactives (with Dr. Duncan Buell, Computer Science and Engineering)
  • Gaming and Humanities (with Dr. Duncan Buell, Computer Science and Engineering)
  • History and Theory of Documentary
  • Introduction to Game Studies
  • Introduction to Media Culture
  • Mangia: Food, Camera, Document
  • Media Convergence/Medium Specificity
  • Reality Augmented
  • Serious Games
  • Surveillance

Areas of Specialization 

  • Theory and history of new media and technology
  • Peircean semiotics and habit-change
  • Critical theory (Foucault, Bergson, Derrida)
  • Theories of vision and visuality
  • Documentary theory and history