David Thorburn is Professor of Literature at MIT and Director Emertitus of the MIT Communications Forum. His most recent books (co-edited with Henry Jenkins) are Democracy and New Media and Rethinking Media Change, the launch volumes in the MIT Press series "Media in Transition" of which he is editor-in-chief. Other writings include Conrad's Romanticism and many essays and reviews on literature and media in such publications as Partisan Review, Commentary, The New York Times and The American Prospect as well as scholarly journals. He has published poetry in such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly, Threepenny Review and Slate. His essays on television, written in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and his course, "American Television: A Cultural History," were among the first in the country to examine the medium in a humanistic context. He has also edited collections of essays on romanticism and on John Updike, as well as a widely used anthology of fiction, Initiation.
Thorburn was the founder and for twelve years the Director of the MIT Film and Media Studies program, the ancestor of the Comparative Media Studies program, MIT's first graduate program in the Humanities. In 2002, he was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT's highest teaching award. He received his A.B. degree from Princeton, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford and taught in the English Department at Yale for ten years before joining the MIT faculty in 1976.