Remote Control (Object Lessons)

Author(s): Caetlin Anne Benson-Allott

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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. While we all use remote controls, we understand little about their history or their impact on our daily lives. Caetlin Benson-Allot looks back on the remote control's material and cultural history to explain how such an innocuous media accessory has changed the way we occupy our houses, interact with our families, and experience the world. From the first wired radio remotes of the 1920s to infrared universal remotes, from the homemade TV controllers to the Apple Remote, remote controls shape our media devices and how we live with them. Object Lesson is published in partnership with an essay series in the The Atlantic.


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A material, literary, and cultural exploration of how the remote control, a seemingly innocuous media accessory, impacts our perception and world-view.

Caetlin Benson-Allott is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University, USA. She is the author of Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing (University of California Press, 2013) and of a column on film and new media in Film Quarterly.

Introduction: What a Mess! Chapter 1: Changing Volume Chapter 2: Switching Channels Chapter 3: Comprehensive Control Conclusion: Material Literacy Index

General Fields

  • : 9781623563110
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : January 2015
  • : 165mm X 120mm
  • : February 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Caetlin Anne Benson-Allott
  • : Paperback
  • : 1503
  • : 184
  • : 25 halftones