Mark B.N. Hansen

Mark B.N. Hansen

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Literature

External address: 
101 Friedl Building, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708-0670
(919) 668-4896

Over the past decade I have sought in my research, writing and teaching to theorize the role played by technology in human agency and social life. In work that ranges across a host of disciplines, including literary studies, film and media, philosophy (particularly phenomenology), science studies, and cognitive neuroscience, I have explored the meaning of the relentless technological exteriorization that characterizes the human as a form of life and have paid particular attention to the key role played by visual art and literature in brokering cultural adaptation to technology from the industrial revolution to the digital revolution.

 My recent work has focused on the experiential significance of the revolution in computation that has transformed the architecture of knowledge in academe and in culture more broadly. As I understand it, the computational revolution is altering the infrastructure of our lifeworld profoundly and thereby changing what it means to be human and also what is involved in practicing the humanities today. I believe that the humanities must embrace technology and that humanists must enter full-scale into the informatics revolution by, for example, contesting the meaning and value of information and rethinking what it means to be human in a realtime, digitally-networked, global world in which we often cognize in concert with intelligent machines.

 My first book, Embodying Technesis: Technology Beyond Writing, set the agenda for my research by asking what is left out when literary and cultural theorists turn their attention to technology. My answer, to put it schematically, is experience: by variously taking technology as a formalizable object - as, say, a figure for the operation of language, for the structure of the text, or for the vicissitudes of the psyche - theorists simply overlook the non-representational, experiential, and massively diffuse impact of technologies on social and cultural life. My effort to grapple with this diffuse impact has led me to focus on media technologies and, in particular, on the contemporary digital media revolution. I have done this in two books, New Philosophy for New Media and Bodies in Code, both devoted methodologically to a practice of experiencing the theoretical and technical significance of the digital revolution through the work of practicing new media artists, architects, and literary authors. In both of these studies, and in my work generally, I proceed from actual engagements with cultural artifacts and processes to theorization that draws together 20th century phenomenology, recent cognitive (neuro)science, and (neo-) cybernetic discourses.

 My current work expands the scope of my research by focusing directly on the coupling of the human and the technical that has characterized the human since its inception. In a study of time and media, I seek to update German philosopher Edmund Husserl's model of time-consciousness in order to address the massive technical inscription of time in our world today. If our experience of selfhood is a function of self-affection by time (as Husserl argues), how is this experience impacted when time becomes mediated by computational processes that occur at scales far beneath what our senses can experience? I explore this critical nexus of self-affection and technical time across various registers, ranging from the intensive times of textual processing in 20th-21st century experimental writing and digital poetics to the evolutionary dynamics of human technogenesis. Having recently spent a year in Beijing, China, I have also become interested in expanding my work to address the very different experience and tradition of time in the East, especially as it impacts practices involving media, art, and the internet, in the context of contemporary globalization.


  • Ph.D., University of California - Irvine 1994
  • M.A., University of California - Irvine 1989
  • B.A., New York University 1987

Hansen, M. B. N. “The Aesthetics of the Superject.” Thingworld: International Triennial of New Media Art 2014, edited by F. Di’an and Z. Ga, National Art Museum of China/Liverpool University Press, 2014.

Sullivan, D. C. Foreword. Vol. 9781848827103, 2013, pp. vii–viii. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-1-84882-710-3. Full Text

Hansen, M. B. N. “Symbolizing Time: Kittler and 21st Century Media.” Kittler Mediated: New Essays on Culture and Technology, edited by S. Sale and L. Salisbury, Stanford University Press, 2013.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Ubiquitous sensibility.” Communication Matters: Materialist Approaches to Media, Mobility, and Networks, 2013. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9780203181096. Full Text

Hansen, M. B. N. “Digital Technics Beyond the “Last Machine”: Thinking Digital Media with Hollis Frampton.” Between Stillness and Motion, edited by E. Rossaak, Amsterdam University Press, 2012.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Ubiquitous Sensation or the Autonomy of the Peripheral: Towards an Atmospheric, Impersonal and Microtemporal Media.” Throughout: Art and Culture Emerging With Ubiquitous Computing, edited by U. Ekman, MIT Press, 2012.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Microsensation and Materiality.” Communication Matters: Materialist Approaches to Media, Networks, and Mobility, edited by J. Packer and S. Wiley, Routledge, 2012.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Print Interface to Time: Only Revolutions at the Crossroads of Narrative and History.” Mark Z. Danielewski, edited by J. Bray and A. Gibbon, Manchester University Press, 2011.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Medien des 21. Jahrhunderts, technisches Empfinden und unsere originäre Umweltbedingung.” Die Technologische Bedingung: Beitraege Zur Beschreibung Der Technischen Welt., edited by E. Hörl, Suhrkamp, 2011.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Sensing Images or Imaging Sensation: Microsensibility between Neural Synchronization and Computational Mediation.” The Philosophy of the Image, edited by J. Khalip and R. Mitchell, Stanford University Press, 2011.


Hansen, M. B. N. “Time/Shi Jian.” Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular, 2009.

Hansen, M. B. N., et al. “Interview with Friedrich Kittler and Mark Hansen.” Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 24, no. 7–8, Dec. 2007, pp. 323–29.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Media Theory.” Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 23, no. 2–3, 2006, pp. 297–306.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Media theory.” Theory, Culture and Society, vol. 23, no. 2–3, Jan. 2006, pp. 291–306.

Hansen, M. B. N. “Movement and memory: Intuition as virtualization in GPS art.” Mln  Modern Language Notes, vol. 120, no. 5, Jan. 2005, pp. 1206–25. Scopus, doi:10.1353/mln.2006.0010. Full Text

Hansen, M. B. N. “Communication as interface or information exchange? A reply to Richard Rushton.” Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 3, no. 3, Dec. 2004, pp. 359–66. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1470412904048568. Full Text

Hansen, M. B. N. “Digitizing the racialized body or the politics of universal address.” Sub Stance, vol. 33, no. 2, Jan. 2004, pp. 107–33. Scopus, doi:10.1353/sub.2004.0022. Full Text

Hansen, M. B. N. “The digital topography of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves.” Contemporary Literature, vol. 45, no. 4, Jan. 2004, pp. 597–636. Scopus, doi:10.1353/cli.2005.0004. Full Text

Hansen, M. “The time of affect, or bearing witness to life.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 30, no. 3, Jan. 2004, pp. 584–626. Scopus, doi:10.1086/421163. Full Text

Hansen, M. B. N. “The Arche-Technics of Life (Arakawa and Gins).” Interfaces, 21/22, vol. 1, 2004, pp. 69–85.