Brenton J. Malin, PhD

1412 Cathedral of Learning
Virtual Office Hours


PhD, University of Iowa


Associate Professor of Communication, Affiliate Faculty, Cultural Studies, Film Studies, & Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies

Brent Malin studies media history, theory, and criticism with concentrations in cultural studies, critical theory, intellectual history, technology studies, and the rhetoric of inquiry. His research covers a range of contemporary and historical topics in order to understand the myriad ways in which people’s identities are constituted by and through the media.

Malin’s first book, American Masculinity under Clinton: Popular Media and the Nineties Crisis of Masculinity, explores conceptions of masculinity offered by a wide range of sources from the 1990s and early 21st century.  Drawing together analyses of such popular culture examples as Friends, Titanic, and The Sopranos, and such political sources as Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, The Starr Report, and the debates surrounding September 11th, Malin illustrates how a rhetoric of masculine crisis has been used to support a range of economic, political, and cultural aims.

His second book, Feeling Mediated: A History of Media Technology and Emotion in America, investigates how changes in communication technology change how people think about emotion. Focusing primarily on the early 20th century U.S. and exploring such diverse technologies as radio and the psycho-galvanometer, this book demonstrates how a set of assumptions about emotion came to dominate popular and academic thinking about the media as well as how these assumptions continue to shape our understanding of communication.

Outside of these two books, Malin’s research has explored a variety of other historical and contemporary issues, from the media research of early 20th century psychologist Carl Seashore to the notions of masculinity depicted on the police drama The Shield, and from 19th century court cases regarding the telegraph to arguments about the democratic possibilities of the Internet. In his addition to his teaching at Pitt, Malin has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Iowa, St. Olaf College, Allegheny College, and San Francisco State University.


  • Author: Brenton J. Malin, PhD
  • Author: Brenton J. Malin, PhD

Malin, B. (forthcoming). Intimate objects: Post-network television and the object-oriented aesthetics of Breaking Bad. Quarterly Review of Film and Video.

Malin, B. (2020). Advertising as a tax expenditure: The tax deduction for advertising and America’s hidden public media system. The Political Economy of Communication, 8(1), 2-17.

Malin, B. (2019). Contextual materialism: Mereology, sociality and the vague ontology of media objects. Communication Theory, 29(2), 151-168.

Malin, B. (2017). Chickens that like Pink Floyd: Media physicalism and the experience of new technology. In S. Rogers and T. Markham (Ed.s), Conditions of Mediation: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication (199-209). New York: Peter Lang.

Malin, B. and Chandler, C. (2017). Free to work anxiously: Splintering precarity among drivers for Uber and Lyft. Communication, Culture, & Critique, 10(2), 382-400.

Malin, B. (2016). Communicating with objects: Ontology, object-orientations, and the politics of communication. Communication Theory, 26(3), 236-254.

Malin, B. (2016). The path to the machine: Affect studies, technology, and the question of ineffability. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 13(1), 40-57.

Malin, B. (2014). Anal probes and overheated media: The physiological roots of contemporary media research. In J. Sterne and D. Mulvin (Ed.s), Media, Hot and Cold, International Journal of Communication, 8, 2509-2512.

Malin, B. (2014). Policing the crisis of masculinity: Media and masculinity at the dawn of the new century. In C. Carter, L. Steiner, and L. McLaughlin (Ed.s), Routledge Companion to Media and Gender (610-619). London, UK: Routledge.

Malin, B. (2014). Media, messages, and emotions. In S. Matt and P. Stearns (Ed.s), Doing Emotions History (181-200). Urbana-Champagne, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Malin, B. (2011). Failed transmissions and broken hearts: The telegraph, communications law, and the emotional responsibility of new technologies. Media History, 17(4), 331-344.

Malin, B. (2011). Electrifying speeches: Emotional control and the technological aesthetic of the voice in the early 20th century US. Journal of Social History, 45(1), 1-19.

Malin, B. (2011). Not just your average beauty: Carl Seashore and the history of communication research in the US. Communication Theory, 21(3), 299-316.

Malin, B. (2011). A very popular blog: The Internet and the possibilities of publicity. New Media & Society, 13(2), 187-202.

Malin, B. (2010). Viral manhood: Niche marketing, hardboiled detectives, and the economics of masculinity. Media, Culture & Society, 32(3), 373-389.

Malin, B. (2009). Mediating emotion: Technology, social science, and emotion in the Payne Fund Motion Picture Studies. Technology & Culture, 50(2), 366-390 (2010 winner of the Walter Benjamin Award for Outstanding Article in the field of Media Ecology from the Media Ecology Association).

Malin, B. (2007). Looking white and middle-class: Stereoscopic imagery and technology in the early 20th century United States. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 93(4), 403-424.

Malin, B. (2004). Gender, culture, power: Three theoretical views. In M. Rose Williams and P. Backlund (Ed.s), Readings in gender communication (pp. 65-75). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Malin, B. (2003). Drive by programming: Niche marketing to the channel surfer on TNT, MTV, and CNN. Explorations in Media Ecology, 2(2), 101-115.

Malin, B. (2003). Memorializing white masculinity: The late 1990s "crisis of masculinity" and the "subversive performance" of Man on the Moon. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 27(3), 239-255 (reprinted in Whitehead, S. [Ed.]. [2006]. Men and masculinities: Critical concepts in sociology. London: Routledge).

Malin, B. (2001). Communication with feeling: Emotion, publicness, and embodiment. Quarterly Journal of Speech 87(2), 216-235.

Courses Taught


  • Mass Communication Process (COMMRC 0320)
  • Television and Society (COMMRC 1105)
  • Media Criticism (COMMRC 1122)


  • Media and Cultural Theory (COMMRC 2227)
  • Seminar in Media Studies (3326)
    • The Media Ecology Tradition
    • Foundations of American Media Theory