Emily West

Emily West, Associate Professor
Associate Professor
S324 Integrative Learning Center
413 545-1311 (leave message)

My research interests are in the areas of Promotion, Technology, and Culture; Media and Cultural Studies of Health; Audiences, Users, and Consumers; and Media and Nationalism. These interests overlap with my course offerings such as Consumer Culture, and Audience Research & Cultural Studies. I am the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture (Routledge, 2013) and my work has appeared in journals such as International Journal of CommunicationHealth CommunicationPopular CommunicationFeminist Media StudiesJournal of Consumer CultureInternational Journal of Cultural Studies, and Social Problems. My current research is about brands and affect in the digital economy.


PhD, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Courses Taught: 

Undergraduate: Introduction to Media & Culture, Consumer Culture, Media Audiences

Graduate: Qualitative Methods in Communication Research, Audience Research and Cultural Studies, Consumer Culture



McAllister, M. & West, E. (Eds.) (2013). The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture. New York: Routledge.

West, E. (2018) “Invitation to Witness: The Role of Subjects in Documentary Representations of the End of Life,” International Journal of Communication, 12, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/6149.

West, E. (2018). “Understanding Authenticity in Commercial Sentiment: The Greeting Card as Emotional Commodity,” invited book chapter in Emotions as Commodities: Capitalism, Consumption, and Authenticity, edited by Eva Illouz, pp.123-144, New York: Routledge. Also published in German in 2018 by Suhrkamp.

West, E. (2016). “Affect Theory and Advertising: A New Look at IMC, Spreadability, and Engagement.” In Explorations in Critical Studies of Advertising, edited by James F. Hamilton, Robert Bodle, and Ezequiel Korn, pp.248-260, Routledge.

West, E. (2014) “Consumer Subjectivity and US Health Care Reform.” Health Communication 29(3): 209-308. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23631595

Current Projects: 

My current book project is about tech giant Amazon, and how this company has created a brand that is both intimate and ubiquitous. I examine the case of Amazon to argue that in the digital economy we are seeing a shift from the dominant brands being brands of production to brands of distribution, and along with that, a shift in branding logics from distinction to ubiquity, and from representational logics to affective ones. While Amazon is a platform company whose primary product is data analytics about consumers, I look in depth at its bookselling, streaming, and smart speaker businesses to illustrate how the commodification of culture and identity are evolving under platform capitalism.

I am also building on my past work on media representations of the end of life, now with a focus on how people share their own end of life experiences through social media and other media forms. Both this project and another project on online petitions aim to theorize how “ordinary” people are navigating the digital attention economy, and how the value and meaning of privacy and publicity are being re-negotiated through practices of self-representation.