Carnegie Mellon University

Kathy Newman

Kathy M. Newman

Associate Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies

Department of English, Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall 259, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Area of Study

Film and Visual Media, Humanities Analytics, Literary and Cultural Studies


My primary interest is in the relationship between mass culture and the masses—the dialectical relationship between our institutions of television, film, radio, the internet and our social/political formations. My first book on these questions, Radio-Active: Advertising and Activism 1935-1947, was published by University of California Press in 2004. I am also a regular blogger for Working Class Perspectives. My larger body of work engages critical theory, historical materialism, literature, visual art, and music. I have published articles on Civil War medical photographs, the image of the graduate student in popular culture, black radio stations in the South in the 1950s, and the challenges of being a junior professor ("Nice Work if We Can Keep It"). I am currently finishing a book that combines cultural analysis with labor history forthcoming with Rutgers University Press, Backstory: Film, Television and Social Class in the 1950s. In this book I analyze 8 films/television programs, including On the Waterfront (1954), The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951), Clash by Night(1952), Marty (1955), The Garment Jungle (1957), The Edge of the City (1957) and The Pajama Game (1957). During the 2017-2018 school year I worked with the Humanities Center at CMU to curate a year of lectures, performances and art that engage with capitalism as an economic and social system as we approached the 200th birthday of Karl Marx (May 2018). When I am not professing I am a wife, a mother, an activist and an artist!