I am a writer working on a history of the American media mogul. The media mogul is a curious public figure: both the director of a vast media empire and a constant object of publicity, a flamboyant maverick in an age of rationalized corporate behavior, and a person who amassed immense wealth and social power by creating obsessive, idiosyncratic fantasy worlds. A titanic producer of newspapers, magazines, movies, and television shows, he controlled the means of representing reality, and his influence changed the way people saw the world and defined their own lives. At the heart of this book are investigations of the lives and work of four prominent media moguls: Walt Disney, Henry Luce, Hugh Hefner, and Oprah Winfrey. Each situates their biography and empire in the context of the economic, technological, social, and cultural developments to which they responded and contributed. Because they possess remarkable similarities in their upbringings, personalities, and career trajectories, this book also develops the general type of the media mogul, and it examines its influence on American society since its emergence at the turn of the twentieth century.

I am broadly interested in the history of American popular culture. My thinking and writing have been shaped by my academic work in philosophy and anthropology, and by my interests in economic history, media theory, and film. Walter Benjamin, Eric Hobsbawm, and Orson Welles are major influences, as is Jürgen Habermas’s first book on the public sphere. My work on the media mogul is motivated by two questions: how do the rapid economic, political, and social changes brought by capitalist development shape everyday experience – our senses, emotions, knowledges, and relationships with time? And how does the consumption of media and culture produced under such conditions inform our identities, desires, social lives, and relationships to authority?

Below are four recent essays and book chapters that I have written. My chapter on Henry Luce, founder of Time, Fortune, and Life magazines, will be completed this fall.

A draft of the first chapter of my media mogul book. It sketches the general character of the media mogul, its historical origins stretching back to the colonial period, and its influence over the dreams and desires of the mass consumer public.

A preparatory character study of the media mogul. It employs a close reading of Orson Welles’s 1941 film Citizen Kane, whose acting, cinematography, and narrative structure reveal important features of this personality.

An essay adapted from my graduate research in cultural anthropology. It examines the explosion of artisanal food and drink after the financial crisis, particularly in small and mid-sized American cities. It draws from fieldwork in Chicago and Louisville.

A look at the ideological underpinnings of the sabermetrics revolution and its impacts on the sport of baseball. It covers the exhaustive collection and analysis of data and the influence of that statistical perspective on player salaries, game strategy, and the ethics of competition.

Chris was born in 1991 in Maplewood, NJ. He studied philosophy and critical theory at Yale and cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is interested in finding ways to research, write, and teach outside of academia. He lives in Chinatown, New York, NY.