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. He was Senior Lecturer until Fall 2020, when he took up a new position as Associate Professor at the University of Turin, Italy; since then, he continues to research at Loughborough as Principal Investigator of the project “Circuits of Practice: Narrating Modern Computing in Museum Environment,” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His main areas of interest are media history and digital media. He 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. His most recent monograph is Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test (Oxford University Press, 2021). He was awarded research funding by world-leading institutions such as the AHRC and the ESRC in the UK, 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. His latest monograph "Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test” will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2021. The book provides 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

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)

Current postgraduate research students

  • 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

  • Thais Sarda: "Online surveillance, Tor Network, and anonymity: A study about Deep Web’ perceptions and representations." Co-supervised with John Downey.
  • 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. Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.
  • 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
  • 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. 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).