David Parisi

Associate Professor

Address: 9 College Way, Room 401
E-mail: parisid@cofc.edu
Personal Website: http://cofc.academia.edu/DavidParisi
Blog: http://hapticstudies.org/

Dr. David Parisi’s research investigates the past, present, and future of touching with digital technologies. His new 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 iterative development of a technoscientific haptics across four centuries. Along the way, he shows how electric shock, experimental psychology, cybernetics, aesthetics, telemanipulation robotics, and virtual reality each participated in a reconceptualization of touch necessary for its integration into contemporary computing technologies. His research on tactility has been featured in forums such as The Wall Street Journal, Vice, Playboy Magazine, Computer Business Review, and Public Seminar.

As a leader in the emerging field of Haptic Media Studies, Dr. Parisi’s scholarship urges media scholars to reflect on touch’s importance to new and old media alike. Through his contributions to the fields of media archaeology, Video Game Studies, Sensory Studies, cybersex, and media history, Parisi has advanced a haptocentric account of media that brings increased attention to this long-neglected mode of experience. Bringing his previous research on haptics and together with his work on video game interfaces, Parisi’s next book will provide a history of the rumble feedback mechanism used to add touch sensations to video games.

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 has developed and taught a range of courses that address the social and cultural status of digital media, including Media, Consumption, and the Senses; Media, Communication and Technocultures; Gaming 101: An Introduction to Video Games and the Study of Play; and Media Criticism. Parisi’s courses frequently involve hands-on engagements with both digital and predigital media interfaces, facilitated by examining artifacts from the John M. Rivers Communications Museum, journeying into game worlds, and experimenting with new human-computer interfaces.


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


Video Game Studies


Media history 


Media archaeology


Sensory studies



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.

Interviews and related press

"The History of Virtulazing Touch" (interview with Allie Mularoni), Public Seminar (June, 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).