David Parisi

Associate Professor

Address: 9 College Way, Room 401
E-mail: parisid@cofc.edu

Dr. David Parisi’s research investigates the past, present, and future of touching with digital technologies. His book Archaeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) explores the technological transformations of touch necessary for the invention of touch-based computer interfaces. Opening with an examination of touch’s role in apprehending the mysteries of eighteenth century electrical machines and closing with an analysis of new computing technologies that digitally synthesize haptic sensations, Archaeologies of Touch traces the development of a technoscientific haptics across four centuries. His work on digital touch has been featured in forums such as All in the Mind, The Correspondent, Tech Crunch, The BelieverThe Wall Street JournalVicePlayboy Magazine, and Computer Business Review. He is an editor at ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories and co-edited the Haptic Media Studies issue of New Media & Society.

Dr. Parisi’s scholarship encourages media scholars to reflect on touch’s importance to new and old media alike. Through his contributions to the fields of media archaeologyVideo Game StudiesSensory Studiescybersex, and media history, Parisi has advanced a touch-centered account of media that brings increased attention to this long-neglected mode of experience. Parisi’s current project explores the material and semiotic processes involved in adding touch sensations to video games, examining feedback devices like console controllers, hug shirts, and the headsets, vests, gloves, and shoes used to simulate touch in virtual reality.

Dr. Parisi joined the Department of Communication in 2009, following a postdoctoral fellowship in New Media Literacies at the Rutgers University Center for Cultural Analysis. He received his Ph.D. from New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and holds an M.A. in Political Theory and a B.A. in Political Science, both from the University at Albany.

During Dr. Parisi’s time at the college, he taught a range of courses that address the social and cultural status of digital media, including Digital Media Dystopias; The Body in the Digital Age; Media, Communication and Technocultures; and Video Games as Cooperation and Competition.


PhD, New York University, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication

MA, University at Albany, Political Theory

BA, University at Albany, Political Science

Research Interests

  • Media Archaeology
  • Sensory Studies
  • Digital media interfaces
  • Touch and haptics
  • History of Science and Medicine
  • Critical Theory
  • Game Studies

Interviews and Related Press

“The Shocking History of Haptics,” Haptics Club (2021).

Shruti Ravindran, “Getting Back in Touch,” The Believer (2020).  

Tanmoy Goswami, “From electrifying kisses to sex robots: the fascinating history of how touch shaped the modern world,” The Correspondent (August, 2020).

“David Parisi: Special guest,” INT: A Podcast about the Tactile Internet [podcast] (2019).

“Getting in Touch with our Haptic Sense,” All in the Mind (2019).

"The History of Virtualizing Touch" (interview with Allie Mularoni), Public Seminar (2018).

“David Parisi on his new book Archaeologies of Touch” (interview by Carlin Wing), CaMP Anthropology (June, 2018).

Sarah Needleman, “Virtual Reality: Now with the sense of touch,” Wall Street Journal (April, 2018).

Ed Targett “Computer Business Review: Microsoft CLAWS at Haptics Progress: Virtual Reality is Getting Tactile,” Computer Business Review (March, 2018).

Greg Brisland, “A History of Haptics: Electric Eels to an Ultimate Display,” HaptX Blog (January, 2018).

Kerstin Leder Mackley, “In-Touch Question & Answer with David Parisi,” In-Touch Research Blog (November, 2017).

Christian Höller, "Haptic Feedback: Interview with David Parisi on the role of 'touch' in digital environments" Springerin 4 (2014).


“Virtual Hugs and the Crises of Touch,” in Data Dating, Ania Malinowska and Valentina Peri, eds. (Intellect, 2021).

“Dreaming and Doing Haptics,” Open! Platform for Art, Culture, and the Public Domain (2020).

“The hype, haplessness, and hope of haptics in the COVID-19 era,” Tech Crunch (2020). (with Devon Powers).

“Expanding the Universe of Haptics,” Lofelt (2020).

“Tactile Temporalities: The Impossible Promise of Increasing Efficiency and Eliminating Delay through Haptic Media.” Convergence 25, no. 1 (2019).

“Rumble/Control: Toward a Critical History of Touch Feedback in Videogames,” ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories 1, no. 2 (2019).

Archaeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing (University of Minnesota Press, 2018).

“Fingerbombing, or ‘Touching is Good’: The Cultural Construction of Technologized Touch” in Figures of Touch: Sense, Technics, Body, edited by Mika Elo & Miika Luoto (University of Helsinki Press, 2018).

“Editors’ Introduction: Haptic Media Studies,” New Media & Society 19, no. 10 (2017). Coauthored with Mark Paterson and Jason Edward Archer.

“Making Touch Analog: The Prospects and Perils of a Haptic Media Studies,” New Media & Society 19, no. 10 (2017). Coauthored with Jason Edward Archer.

“This orgasm machine nearly revolutionized sex as we know it,” Vice (August 29, 2017). [originally published as “RealTouching from a Distance,” Logic 1, no. 2 (July 2017)]

“Game Interfaces as Disabling Infrastructures,” Analog Game Studies IV, no. III (2017).

“Eine Technik der Medienberührung: Kinästhetische Displays und die Suche nach Computerhaptik” [A Technics of Media Touch: Kinesthetic Displays and the Quest to Engineer Computer Haptics], in Haptisch/Optisch II, Maske und Kothurn 2-3 (2016).

“What the Surrogate Touches: The Haptic Threshold of Transhuman Embodiment,” Confero: Essays on Education, Philosophy, and Politics 4, no. 2 (2016).

“A Counterrevolution in the Hands: The Console Controller as an Ergonomic Branding Mechanism,” Journal of Games Criticism 2, no. 1 (2015).

“Reach In and Feel Something: On the Strategic Reconstruction of Touch in Virtual Space,” Animation 9, no. 2 (2014).

“Shocking Grasps: An Archaeology of Electrotactile Game Mechanics,” Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research 13, no. 2 (2013).

“Banishing Phantoms from the Skin: ‘Vibranxiety’ and the Pathologization of Interfacing,” Flow 17, no. 5 (2013).

“When Screens Touch Back” Flow 17, no. 1 (2012).

“Tactile Modernity: On the Rationalization of Touch in the Nineteenth Century,” in Literature and Media in the Nineteenth Century: Image, Sound, and Touch, Colette Colligan and Margaret Linley, eds. (Ashgate Press, 2011).

“Game Interfaces as Bodily Techniques” in Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education, Richard Ferdig, ed. (IGI Global, 2009).

“Fingerbombing, or ‘Touching is Good’: The Cultural Construction of Technologized Touch, Senses and Society 3, no. 3 (2008), 307-327.

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