My Wellesley
Nicholas Knouf

Nicholas Knouf

Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies

Nicholas Knouf is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies. He is a media scholar and artist researching noise, interferences, boundaries, and limits in media technologies and communication.

Nicholas Knouf is a media scholar and artist who researches the liminal spaces of communication. He's interested in fundamental questions of how we demarcate signal from noise, how we decide that certain types of communication are allowed or not, and what all of this might tell us about both developing novel communication technologies and how we mark the line between the human and the non-human.

His current research project, entitled "At the Limits of Understanding", exists at the edges of media studies by examining how we are searching for, and trying to potentially understand, extraterrestrial communications. This research uses a boundary case--the search for alien signals--to probe foundational issues: where do we draw the line between signal and noise? What assumptions might be revealed by tracing how we make those determinations? How might we think of other ways of searching for extraterrestrials? And what might all of this mean for our relationships with other humans or with how we define humanity?

His first book project, How Noise Matters to Finance, traced the conceptual development of "noise" within the sonic and informatic domains of finance in the 20th and 21st centuries. He is a strong believer in free and open software and is an advocate for open access to knowledge.