Lynn Spigel will be coming to speak at the Modern Design History Seminar on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Her talk is entitled “Media Walls: From Mid-Century Domesticity to Smart Home Environments.”

Spigel is the Frances Willard Professor of Screen Cultures at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in Film and Television and has authored several books, including Electronic Elsewheres: Media, Technology and Social Space (2010), TV By Design: Modern Art and the Rise of Network TV (2009), and Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America(1992). Additionally, Spigel is the editor of Console-ing Passions (Duke University Press) and has edited several other volumes, including Television after TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition (2005).

Her talk will trace the ways in which home decorating manuals, interior designers, and architects promoted George Nelson’s “Storagewall” and discuss how the storage wall came to be known as a media wall in vernacular use. By placing a consortium of home media and office machines (typewriters, TV sets, radios, phonographs, clocks, and filing cabinets) into both technical and discursive/semantic relations with one another, the media wall served as a kind of primitive PC—a device that could transmit, receive, and store messages while allowing the resident to multi-task between home entertainment and home office work. In this talk, Spigel will discuss the storage wall as a central aspect of the history of media homes and current-day smart home environments. Furthermore, the talk will also consider the politics of gender and taste that the storage/media wall implied.

Light refreshments will be served at 5:45 pm. The presentation will begin at 6:00 pm.

RSVP is required. Please click on the registration link at the bottom of this page or contact

PLEASE NOTE that our Lecture Hall can only accommodate a limited number of people, so please come early if you would like to have a seat in the main room. We also have overflow seating available; all registrants who arrive late will be seated in the overflow area.