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College of Arts & Sciences
Film and Media Studies Program

Heidi Rae Cooley, Assistant Professor

PhD, Critical Studies/School of Cinema-Television, University of Southern California (2007)

Office: 337 McMaster College
Office Phone: (803) 777-3137 (Note: I am best reached by email)



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


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


Recent Courses

  • 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 Media Culture
  • Mangia: Food, Camera, Document
  • Reality Augmented
  • Media Convergence/Medium Specificity
  • Serious Games
  • Surveillance



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 current book project is Finding Augusta: Habits of Mobility, Finding, and Governance in the Digital Era (Dartmouth College Press/Interfaces Series, forthcoming February 2014). Interested in 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, it posits 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 functions as a laboratory for exploring its argument. (See:

Cooley has published in the journal of visual culture, Spectator, and The Object Reader (Routledge 2009). 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 this introduction appears in Depletion Design: A Glossary of Network Ecologies (eds., Carolin Wiedemann and Soenke Zehle. Theory on Demand #8. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2012). And she is contributing three short articles about mobile media to Flow 17. (See:

More recently, Cooley and her colleague Dr. Duncan Buell (Computer Science and Engineering) have collaborated on two NEH-funded projects:

  1. a 3-week Humanities Gaming Institute (June 2010)--with Simon Tarr (Media Arts)
  2. an early modern British social history game called Desperate Fishwives (2011-2012)--inspired by a concept delivered by HGI participant and historian Dr. Ruth McClelland-Nugent (Augusta State University)

They currently have an ASPIRE II grant from USC’s Office of the VP for Research for the continued development of a critical interactive called Ghosts of the Horseshoe. (See: