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65 5th Ave, Room 411
New York, NY, 10003
United States

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought at the New School incubates advanced transdisciplinary research and practice at the intersection of social theory and design and fosters dialogue on related themes across the university.

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Shannon Mattern

Shannon Mattern is Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement. She teaches and writes about media infrastructures, media aesthetics, libraries, archives, and other media spaces.

SHANNON MATTERN is Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement. She teaches and writes about media infrastructures, media aesthetics, libraries, archives, and other media spaces.

As a GIDEST Faculty Fellow, Shannon will explore how the design of organizational “furnishings,” both physical and virtual—from bookshelves and filing cabinets to classification systems and database architectures—gives form to affect and epistemology. These structures—the scrinium and capsa that held papyrus scrolls in ancient archives, the metal chains that tied books to desks in medieval institutions, the slipcases that Melvil Dewey’s Library Bureau sold to libraries to keep track of their circulating books, the racks that hold our computer servers—are much more than utilitarian pieces of equipment. They scaffold our media technologies, inform how human bodies relate to those media, and embody knowledge. In this way, Shannon’s research reminds us of the architecture and aesthetics of information and situates our contemporary digital repositories and libraries within their historical contexts, highlighting the continuities and breaks in the physical and intellectual support systems that have undergirded our knowledge institutions over time. 


GRADUATE INSTITUTE FOR DESIGN, ETHNOGRAPHY & SOCIAL THOUGHT, 63 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10003