Dr Simone Natale

BA, MA, PhD University of Turin, Postdoc Columbia University and University of Cologne

  • Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies

Simone joined the department in 2015 and is since 2018 Programme Director for Loughborough's Communication and Media undergraduate programmes. 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. He is Assistant Editor of Media, Culture & Society.

Simone's current research focuses on the history of digital media. He is now working on a new monograph project, entitled "Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test," under contract with Oxford University Press. 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. The early draft of a chapter from this forthcoming book has been published by the journal New Media and Society and is accessible here.

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" (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018) and, with Diana Pasulka, of "Believing in Bits: Digital Media and the Supernatural" (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Recent externally funded projects and fellowships:

  • 2020-21, Principal Investigator, Circuits of Practice: Narrating Modern Computers in Museum Environments, AHRC Research Grant
  • 2019-23, Principal Supervisor, Media convergence before convergence: The case of the Electrophone, 1894-1938, AHRC Grant for Collaborative Doctoral Studentships
  • 2019 ZEMKI Visiting Research Fellowship, University of Bremen

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

Modules taught:

  • Digital Cultures (PGT)
  • Introduction to Communication and Media Studies: Historical Themes and Perspectives (UG, 1st year)
  • Media and Social Change (UG, 2nd year)
  • Media and Modernity (PGT)
  • Politics of Representation (PGT)
  • Critical Viewings: Documentary (UG, 3rd year)
  • Critical Viewings: Film (UG, 2nd year)

Main areas of PhD supervision include:

  • History and theory of digital media
  • Media history
  • Digital culture
  • Social and historical approaches to Artificial Intelligence

Current postgraduate research students

  • Thais Sarda: "Online surveillance, Tor Network, and anonymity: A study about Deep Web’ perceptions and representations." Co-supervised with John Downey.
  • Mona Khan: "Remembering partition online." Co-supervised with Emily Keightley and Rohit Dasgupta.
  • Natasha Kitcher: "Media convergence before convergence: The case of the Electrophone, 1894-1938." Funded through AHRC, co-supervised with Gabriele Balbi (USI, Switzerland), James Elder (BT Archives), David Hay (BT Archives) and Peter Yeandle.

  • Meghan Conroy: “What Role Do Social Media Influencers Play in Spreading Misinformation and Disinformation?” Funded through LU’s Online Civic Culture Centre, co-supervised with Andrew Chadwick, Louise Cooke and Suzanne Elayan.

Recent postgraduate research students

  • Suria Hani binti A.Rahman: "Screening Islam: The representation of religion and gender in different genres of Islamic films in Malaysia." Co-supervised with Paula Saukko.
  • Natale, S. Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture. University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 2016 (paperback 2017).
  • Natale, S. & Pasulka, D. (eds.) Believing in Bits: Digital Media and the Supernatural. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Leonardi, N. & Natale, S. (eds.) Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century. University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 2018 (paperback 2019).
  • Natale, S. & Ballatore, A. Imagining the Thinking Machine: Technological Myths and the Rise of Artificial Intelligence. Convergence 26.1 (2020): 3-18. doi: 10.1177/1354856517715164.
  • Natale, S. If Software Is Narrative: Joseph Weizenbaum, Artificial Intelligence and the Eliza Effect. New Media and Society 21.3 (2019): 712–728. doi: 10.1177/1461444818804980
  • Natale, S. There Are No Old Media. Journal of Communication 66.4 (2016): 586-603. doi: 10.1111/jcom.12235
  • Natale, S. Unveiling the Biographies of Media: On the Role of Narratives, Anecdotes and Storytelling in the Construction of New Media’s Histories. Communication Theory 26.4 (2016): 431–449. doi: 10.1111/comt.12099
  • Ballatore, A. & Natale, S. E-Readers and the Death of the Book: or, New Media and the Myth of the Disappearing Medium. New Media & Society 18.10 (2016): 2379-2394. doi: 10.1177/1461444815586984
  • Natale, S. & Ballatore, A. The Web Will Kill Them All: New Media, Digital Utopia, and Political Struggle in the Italian 5-Star Movement. Media, Culture & Society 36.1 (2014): 105-21. doi: 10.1177/0163443713511902
  • Natale, S. & Balbi, G. Media and the Imaginary in History: The Role of the Fantastic in Different Stages of Media Change. Media History 20.2 (2014): 203-218.