School of Cinematic Arts Directory Profile

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Tara McPherson, Ph.D.

Professor of Cinematic Arts
Media Arts + Practice Division, Ph.D. Advisor

Affiliated Divisions:

Division of Cinema & Media Studies
Media Arts + Practice Division

Work Phone: 213.740.3334
Office: SCA 320

Tara McPherson is Professor of Cinema + Media Studies in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Director of the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study.  She is a core faculty member of the MAP program, USC’s innovative practice-based Ph.D., and also an affiliated faculty member in the American Studies and Ethnicity Department.  Her scholarship engages the cultural dimensions of media, including the intersection of gender, race, affect, and place.  She has a particular interest in digital media.  Here, her research focuses on the digital humanities, early software histories, gender, and race, as well as upon the development of new tools and paradigms for digital publishing, learning, and authorship.     

Her most recent book is Feminist in a Software Lab: Difference + Design (Harvard UP: 2018). Her Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (Duke UP: 2003) received the 2004 John G. Cawelti Award for the outstanding book published on American Culture, among other awards.  She is co-editor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture (Duke UP: 2003) and of Transmedia Frictions: The Digital, The Arts + the Humanities (California, 2014), and editor of Digital Youth, Innovation and the Unexpected, part of the MacArthur Foundation series on Digital Media and Learning (MIT Press, 2008.) Her writing has appeared in numerous journals, edited collections, and online venues.

She is the lead PI on the authoring platform, Scalar, and for the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, Her research has been funded by the Mellon, Ford, Annenberg, and MacArthur Foundations, as well as by the NEH. She is the Founding Editor of Vectors,, a multimedia peer-reviewed journal affiliated with the Open Humanities Press, and was a founding editor of the MacArthur-supported International Journal of Learning and Media (MIT Press.)  She is a widely sought-out speaker on the digital humanities, digital scholarship, digital media, and feminist technology studies.  Tara was among the founding organizers of Race in Digital Space, an early initiative addressing issues of race, technology, and computation.  She served on the advisory board of the Mellon-funded Scholarly Communications Institute, has frequently served as an AFI juror, is a core board member of HASTAC , and is on the boards of several journals and other organizations. 


Feminist in a Software Lab (Harvard University Press, 2018)

Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (Duke University Press, 2003)

Hop On Pop: The Pleasures and Politics of Popular Culture (co-editor, Duke University Press, 2003)

Digital Youth, Innovation and the Unexpected (editor, MIT Press, 2008)

Transmedia Frictions: The Digital, the Arts, and the Humanities (co-editor, University of California Press, 2014)