Dr Dylan Mulvin

Dr Dylan Mulvin

Assistant Professor

Department of Media and Communications

Telephone
+44 (0)20 7955 7346
Room No
PEL.7.01C
Office Hours
By appointment on Student Hub
Connect with me

Languages
English
Key Expertise
Media History

About me

Dr Mulvin will be on sabbatical leave during Lent Term 2022.

Dr Dylan Mulvin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where he also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Media and Communications.

Dr Mulvin is a historian of media and technology. Drawing on methods from media studies, Science and Technology Studies, gender studies, and disability studies, Dr Mulvin investigates how standards, infrastructures, and defaults encode and crystallise assumptions about human perception and behavior. In other words, he studies the ways people make the stuff that we take for granted. He is the author of Proxies: the Cultural Work of Standing In (published open access with MIT Press).

Prior to joining the Department, Dr Mulvin was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, where he was a member of the Social Media Collective. He earned his MA and PhD in Communication Studies from McGill University.

Expertise Details

Media History; Media Theory; Infrastructure Studies; Science and Technology Studies; History of Science and Technology; Visual Culture; Screen Technologies; Gender Studies; Disability Studies; 20th Century History; Cultural Studies

Publications

Research

Dr Mulvin has published widely on the history of media, technology, and culture. His new book, Proxies: The Cultural Work of Standing In looks at the ways institutions enact and maintain their standards through human labor, embodied performance, and the materialization of abstract ideas in physical stuff. For designers of technology, some bits of the world end up standing in for other bits, standards with which they build and calibrate. These “proxies” carry specific values, even as they disappear from view. Dr Mulvin explores the ways technologies, standards, and infrastructures inescapably reflect the cultural milieus of their bureaucratic homes. Drawing on archival research, he investigates some of the basic building-blocks of our shared infrastructures. He tells the history of technology through the labor and communal practices of, among others, the people who clean kilograms to make the metric system run, the women who pose as test images, and the actors who embody disease and disability for medical students. Each case maps the ways standards and infrastructure rely on prototypical ideas of whiteness, able-bodiedness, and purity to control and contain the messiness of reality. Standards and infrastructures, Dr Mulvin argues, shape and distort the possibilities of representation, the meaning of difference, and the levers of change and social justice.

Dr Mulvin’s other recent publications include a history of “night modes” in mobile screens, a media-theoretical treatment of atomic timekeeping, and a history of American colour television standards. In his new research he has investigated the domestication of computing in the 1990s, particularly the ways computing, code, and infrastructure were explained to various publics. This includes a (recovered) history of the Y2K crisis, as well as collaborative projects on the intersection of HIV and computing (with Cait McKinney), funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He is currently at work on an investigation of media, culture, and emotion, told through the space of the “rage room.”

Teaching and supervision

Postgraduate teaching

In addition to his duties as Programme Director for the MSc Media and Communications, Dr Mulvin convenes the Department's core postgraduate course on Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications, and an optional postgraduate course on Media, Technology and the Body. Dr Mulvin also contributes to team-taught postgraduate Media and Communications courses relating to theories and research methodologies. 

In 2019, Dr Mulvin was presented with an LSE Excellence in Education Award for outstanding teaching contribution and educational leadership in the Deparment.

Doctoral supervision

Dr Mulvin supervises doctoral researchers and welcomes applications from prospective candidates with interest in his areas of expertise.