Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Communication Studies

First Advisor

John Durham Peters

First Committee Member

Mark Andrejevic

Second Committee Member

Joy Hayes

Third Committee Member

Kembrew McLeod

Fourth Committee Member

Christopher Merrill


This study introduces logistical media and considers one example of such--radar. Innis (1972; 1951), Mumford (1970; 1934), Carey (1988), Virilio (1997; 1989; 1986) and others are discussed as preparing an understanding of logistical media as subtle but powerful devices of cognitive, social, and political coordination that affect our experience of time and space. Radar is presented as significant because of its progressive-catastrophic potential. Radar was invented for national defense and to remotely survey the earth and its atmosphere, but it also allows new collisions with "others."

American radar was primarily developed at the Radiation Laboratory at MIT during the 1940s. Historical objects, principally from the MIT Radiation Laboratory Historian's Office, are arranged and discussed according to Walter Benjamin's (1999) historical method. Benjamin theorized that historical debris can be arranged as a dialectical image or constellation that can momentarily disrupt our sense of chronological progress and denaturalize ideology. Benjamin described this disruption as the interruption of the present with the now.

Radar is considered in terms of authoritarian modernity, and as contributing to a politics of distance, speed, angle, movement, and perception. Objects from radar history are marshaled to illuminate radar's pre-history, its use of feedback to identify and coordinate objects, and its susceptibility to error and disruption. Present understandings of the 9/11 attacks are challenged by the now of these objects, and an understanding of logistical media is furthered.


Benjamin, cybernetics, logistics, media, radar, Virilio


vi, 291 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 272-291).


Copyright 2010 Judd Ammon Case

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