Susan  Matt

  • Title / Position: Professor and Chair of the History Department
  • Organization: Weber State University
  • Twitter: alongingforhome

I am an historian of the emotions who studies the inner lives of individuals. My most recent book was Homesickness: An American History (Oxford, 2011). The last chapter of the book examined how modern technology--like Facebook, Skype, email--affected people's sense of distance and changed emotional experience. I now want to turn my attention to the way that technology has affected emotional life in general, both in the past and the present.

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    We are proposing a combined MAKE and TALK session:

    For the Talk– Are our present concerns about “information overload” and “digital distraction” and the need for “Walden zones” and “digital
    sabbaths” simply a form of “moral panic?”  Are they merely the latest iteration of longstanding fears about the new and unknown? Didn’t
    earlier generations’ worry about the way that movies, or rock and roll, or television,  were affecting America’s youth?  Or are our
    present worries something to be taken seriously?  What insights can the humanities bring to bear in answering these questions?

    For the Make–What digital technologies might help to alleviate the concerns about distractions enumerated above?  Here’s a cartoon storyline idea for one such ap:

    Susan Matt and Luke Fernandez are jointly proposing this.

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