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Director of COMM Graduate Studies, Associate Professor, Diversity Liaison

Area of Study: Media and Technology Studies & Cultural Studies

Office: 139
 Bynum Hall
Office Hours: By appointment, With Olivia on Tuesdays 2-3pm regarding graduate studies







Michael Palm is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill and Affiliated Faculty in the American Studies Program. Professor Palm’s teaching at the undergraduate level focuses on the history of everyday technology and the politics and economics of popular culture. His graduate seminars adopt historical, critical-theoretical and political-economic perspectives to interrogate the shifting relationships between technology, work, and everyday life. His most recent graduate seminar was titled “Political Economies of Digital Media.” While completing his PhD in American Studies at NYU (2010), he co-edited and contributed to The University Against Itself: The NYU Strike and the Future of the Academic Workplace (Temple, 2008). He serves as President of the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter of the American Association of University Professors, and from 2015-2020 he produced the Thursday Night Feature on WXYC, 89.3 fm, UNC’s free-form radio station.


Research Interests

Palm’s current book project documents and analyzes the new economy for vinyl records after digitization. Informed by labor ethnography along records’ contemporary supply chain, the book connects the vinyl revival to issues including ecological sustainability, gentrification, and independent cultural production in a digital media landscape. Palm’s book Technologies of Consumer Labor: A History of Self-Service (Routledge, 2017) documents and examines the history of technology used by consumers to serve oneself. The telephone’s development as a self-service technology functions as the narrative spine, and Palm argues that the naturalization of self-service telephony, specifically via the touch-tone keypad, shaped consumers’ attitudes and expectations about interacting and transacting via digital technology. Technologies of Consumer Labor was recently reviewed in the journals, Media Industries and Information, Communication, and Society.


Recent Honors 

Faculty Mentor, Moore Undergraduate Research Program, UNC-Chapel Hill, Summer 2019, Summer 2020

Invited author for a book talk at Seminary Co-op Bookstores, University of Chicago, March 5, 2019

Awarded a Research and Study Semester by the Dept. of Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill, Spring 2019

Nominated for Book of the Year, National Communication Association, Critical/Cultural Division, 2018

Awarded Ken and Mary Lowe Faculty Excellence Grant, Dept. of Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2017


Recent Publications

More than a number: The telephone and the history of digital identification,” with Jennifer Holt, International Journal of Cultural Studies, first published online March 7, 2021, Special Issue: Media Infrastructures

Brick-and-Platform: Listing Labor in the Digital Vintage Economy,” with Tamara Kneese, Social Media + Society, online first, July 2, 2020, Special Issue: Platforms and Cultural Productions, eds. Brooke Erin Duffy, Thomas Poell, & David Nieborg

Keeping What Real? Vinyl Records and the Future of Independent Culture,” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 25(4), 2019, Special issue: Rethinking the Distinction Between Old and New Media, eds. Frederik Lasage and Simone Natale 643-656.

Then Press Enter: Digital Payment Technology and the History of Telephone Interface,” Cultural Studies, vol. 32, no. 4, 2018, 582-599

Analog Backlog: Pressing Records during the Vinyl Revival,” Journal of  Popular Music Studies, vol. 29, no. 4, December, 2017), e12247, 1-14

The Swipe,” in Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and other Money Stuff, eds. Bill Mauer and Lana Schwarz (MIT Press, 2017)