Social Sciences


Dr Simone Natale BA, MA, PhD University of Turin, Postdoc Columbia University and University of Cologne

Photo of Dr Simone Natale

Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies.

Simone joined the department in 2015. His main areas of interest are media history and digital media. He completed his Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Turin, Italy, in 2011, and has researched and taught in numerous international institutions, including Columbia University in New York, USA, Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Cologne in Germany, and Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of a monograph, "Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture" (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016), and of articles published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Communication Theory, Media, Culture & Society, and Media History. He was awarded research fellowships by world-leading institutions such as the Humboldt Foundation and Columbia University’s Italian Academy. 

Simone's latest research focuses on the history of digital media. He is now working on a new monograph project, tentatively entitled "Deceitful Media: Interface, Artificial Intelligence, and the Cultural History of the Turing Test." It aims to look at the history of how Turing’s idea of the imitation game (later commonly described as Turing Test) emerged, was picked up in academic and popular debates, and contributed to shape representations and visions about Artificial Intelligence and human-machine interactions. The book will provide an excavation of the historical trajectory leading to the emergence of AI technologies such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and social media bots.

Simone has written on the relationship between media and the imagination, on digital media and culture, and on media archaeology. His research reminds us that media are not only machines, artifacts, and social systems, but also imaginary and cultural constructions that contribute to shape our understanding of broader cultural issues, and create new ways to narrate and make sense of the transformations experienced in our society and everyday life. His first monograph "Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture" (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016; reprinted as paperback in 2017) argues that the emergence of new forms of beliefs in spirits since the middle nineteenth century was closely related to the rise of the media entertainment media industry. Drawing from extensive archival research, the book provides an archaeology of how the supernatural entered into the core of contemporary media culture. He is also the editor, with Nicoletta Leonardi, of "Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century" (forthcoming with Pennsylvania State University Press in 2018).

Simone is also interested in how digital media are imagined and represented, and how this informs how they are used and inserted into our everyday experience and life. He has written on the connections between new media and particular visions of the future, on the rhetorical use in political communication of the myth of the Web as harbinger of democracy and free speech, and on how particular narratives about digital media influence our interaction with them. His publications on these topics have appeared in top-ranked journals such as New Media & Society, Media, Culture & Society and the Journal of Communication.

Simone teaches primarily in the areas of digital media, media theory and history, and film studies.

Modules taught:

  • Introduction to Communication and Media Studies: Historical Themes and Perspectives
  • Media and Social Change
  • Media and Modernity
  • Politics of Representation
  • Critical Viewings: Documentary
  • Critical Viewings: Film

Main areas of PhD supervision:

  • History and theory of digital media
  • Media, memory and history

Ongoing PhD supervisions:

  • Thais Sarda
    Thesis title: Online surveillance, Tor Network, and anonymity: A study about Deep Web’ perceptions and representations
  • Mona Khan
    Thesis title: Remembering partition online
  • Suria Hani binti A.Rahman
    Thesis title: Screening Islam: The representation of religion and gender in different genres of Islamic films in Malaysia


Journal articles (selection)