The Faculty of Information is pleased to announce the appointment of Associate Professor, Sarah Sharma, as Director of the McLuhan Centre in Culture and Technology at the iSchool, for a five-year term, from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2021. Thank you to Interim Director, Professor Seamus Ross, who held this role for the past year.
Professor Sharma holds her faculty appointment at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) at UTM where she teaches courses on feminist technology and critical race. She holds her graduate appointment at the Faculty of Information, where she was McLuhan Program Director in 2016. Next semester, Dr. Sharma is offering an experimental course at the McLuhan Centre on the politics of time and space in the city of Toronto.
“Dr. Sharma’s appointment caps off a year of reimagining where the McLuhan Centre connected with academics, business professionals, scientists, artists, and designers who explore and plan our cities, and society, as a source of education and inspiration,” says Wendy Duff, Dean of the iSchool.”
At the McLuhan Centre, Prof. Sharma hopes to help cultivate and foster a tri-campus interdisciplinary home for critical understanding of digital culture. She hopes the Centre will become a renewed intellectual space open to a diverse body of students and faculty, but also to the larger public globally: “The McLuhan Centre must become a space that accounts not only for the diversity of the University of Toronto, but also the city. My focus will be on creating opportunities to extend McLuhan’s formative insights on culture and technology to reach across new terrain,” Dr. Sharma says.
Professor Sharma is a communication scholar who has established a program of research that is recognized nationally and internationally as extending the work of Canadian media theorists, Marshall McLuhan and Harold Adams Innis, into new conceptual and empirical terrain.
Over the past decade, she has developed a trajectory of research that has widened the scope of the “Toronto School of Communication” to include feminist and postcolonial perspectives in order to better account for how technology and culture is always about power and social difference.
She says: “There is so much more to acknowledge about McLuhan’s enduring insights into technology and culture than just his legacy. Some of the most promising conversations about technology and culture are coming from voices that have been excluded, and some of the most socially innovative approaches to technology are occurring in places and with populations no one is looking at.”
Sarah received her PhD from the Joint Programme in Communication and Culture at York/Ryerson in 2006. It was also in 2006 when she took up a tenure track position at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her monograph, In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics, was awarded the 2014 National Communication Critical Cultural Book of the Year.
Prof. Sharma is currently working on a new book project on the gendered politics of exit that she traces across seemingly disparate sites like platform capitalism, right wing nationalist movements, to the development of robots designed to provide care. She is also heading a collaborative project entitled Mis(s)Understanding Media that is a critical updating and corrective of McLuhan’s seminal text with new media objects.
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