Authors | Shannon Mattern

Shannon Mattern is an Associate Professor in the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York. Her research and teaching address relationships between the forms and materialities of media and the spaces (architectural, urban, conceptual) they create and inhabit. She writes about libraries and archives, media companies' headquarters, place branding, public design projects, urban media art, media acoustics, media infrastructures, and material texts. You can find her at

Articles on Amodern by Shannon Mattern


A Conversation with Shannon Mattern

Shannon Mattern’s broad-ranging media archaeological research and teaching attend to textual and literary spaces, sound archives and the materialities of media migration and transformation. This conversation alights on Mattern’s experience and insight and offers an indispensable entreé to the pleasures, risks, stakes and meanings of media historical investigation and hands-on archival work for literary and performance scholars confronting their objects of study as media artifacts. Addressing the practicalities and problems around archival research and archive building, Mattern charts the territory and signals key debates for newcomers to media archaeological ventures with respect to what sound and media archives mean, and the ways we encounter and create them.


Listening to Historic Urban Infrastructures

What might media archaeologists of the Kittlerian variety have to learn from archaeologists of the Indiana Jones school? In studying the networked urban environment, there’s much to be gained by taking up trowels and examining the material artifacts of urban communication. This is particularly true in exploring the history of the “sonic city” – the city of radio waves and public address and everyday conversation. The material spaces in which echoes once reverberated can offer invaluable clues about how our cities (re-)sound. We find that our media histories are deeply networked with our urban and architectural histories, and that, in many cases, these cultural and technological forms are mutually constructed.