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The creative industries are powerful agents of economic, political and cultural change, in Canada and around the world. Tanner Mirrlees, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of the Communication and Digital Media Studies Program in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities (FSSH), is an award-winning teacher and communications scholar who advocates for media that supports democracy and social justice. His research focuses on key topics in the political economy of communications tradition such as empire and communications, cultural industries and cultural policy, the politics of popular culture, and the transformation of work in the global information age. Early in his career, he has already authored several books including Hearts and Mines: The U.S. Empire’s Culture Industry, Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism and Cultural Globalization, and The Television Reader. An Associate of UOIT’s Decimal Lab, Dr. Mirrlees is also exploring first-of-its-kind research on how interactive war video games prefigure and feed into the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) research and development of transhuman technologies. Engaging students in meaningful dialogue, intervening in real-world debates, and showcasing critical research in the field, Dr. Mirrlees received the FSSH Teaching Award in 2013, just one year after he joined UOIT. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University’s Department of Politics and Public Administration. Dr. Mirrlees earned his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts in English and Theatre Studies from the University of Guelph, where he developed a passion for performance and the political meanings of texts. His interests shifted toward communication studies and he pursued a joint program at York University and Ryerson University, earning his Doctorate in Communication and Culture in 2008. That same year, he was honoured with the Governor General’s Award (Gold Medal) for the highest distinction in scholarship for the doctoral degree.

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UOIT Faculty of Social Science and Humanities Teaching Award

June 1, 2013

Upon completion of his first year of teaching at UOIT, Dr. Mirrlees was received the award for his inspiring and engaging teaching methods.

Guelph-Humber Student Association Faculty Appreciation Award

June 1, 2011

This award is granted to a professor, selected by students, who demonstrates exceptional teaching skills and a willingness to go above and beyond the course requirements to meet student needs and facilitate a positive learning environment.

Governor General’s Award (Gold Medal)

June 1, 2008

This award is granted to a doctoral student for their outstanding scholastic achievements and graduation with the highest average.

York University and Ryerson University

PhD - Communication and Culture

University of Guelph

MA - English and Theatre Studies

University of Guelph

BA - English and Theatre Studies (Honours)
  • Canadian Communication Association

  • International Association of Media and Communication Research

  • Popular Culture Association of Canada

  • Union for Democratic Communications

  • Society for Utopian Studies


  • Media appearances

    Looking at the popularity of making a murderer
    Channel 12 Durham tv

    January 19, 2016

    Tanner Mirrlees, Professor of Communication and Digital Media Studies, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at UOIT: “In the American media landscape, there’s long been this dramatic tension or this particular trope or thematic element that positions a “Big Government” state entities versus the “little guy.” And Steven Avery is the quintessential example of the little guy Everyman who is being effected in quite a negative way.”

    Social media posts spell the end of federal candidacies across Canada
    Durham Region online

    October 3, 2015

    Tanner Mirrlees is an assistant professor in UOIT’s Communications and Digital Media Studies program. He said it’s not uncommon for political parties to try to dredge up items that may embarrass their opponents. “But what’s new is we have this thing called the Internet and the world wide web, and social media in particular which is a treasure trove of personalized data and information about politicians that they may or may not even know exists.”

    Voter turnout is low: here’s why
    Durham Region online

    March 5, 2014

    We Canadians say we are proud to be part of one of the most democratic countries in the world and that we cherish democracy.

    Media Capitalism, the State, and 21st Century Media Democracy Struggles: An interview with Robert McChesney
    MR Zine online

    September 8, 2009

    Robert McChesney, eminent historian and political-economist of the media, founder of the Free Press, leading U.S. and international media activist, and author of The Political Economy of the Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas and Communication Revolution: Critical Junctures and the Future of the Media, spoke with Tanner Mirrlees, of the Socialist Project, about contemporary media capitalism and 21st century media democracy struggles to understand and change it.

  • Past speaking engagements
    • Transforming Transformers: How the DOD Communicates through Global Hollywood

      Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec
      January 1, 2015

      Popular Culture Working Group, International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)

    • Revisiting Herbert I. Schiller: Communication and American Empire Today

      Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec
      January 1, 2015

      Political Economy of Communication Section, IAMCR

    • Teaching (to) Labour in the Creative Industry: A Pedagogy of the Precariat?

      York University, Toronto, Ontario
      January 1, 2014

      Labour in Circulation: Perspectives from Communication and Cultural Studies

    • Stuart Hall, Hegemony and Media 2.0

      University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario
      January 1, 2015

      Society for Socialist Studies, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

    • Speculative Policy-Making and Science Fiction: Elysium as a Critical Dystopia

      University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario
      May 30, 2015

      Canadian Communication Association (CCA), Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

    • An MICC in Canada?

      University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
      January 1, 2015

      UDC: Circuits of Struggle

    • Reality TV’s Low to Now Wage Workforce

      Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario
      January 1, 2015

      The Paradox of Low-Wage, No-Wage Work, Alternate Routes

    • The Canadian Army’s YouTube Channel and Soldier-Generated Content

      Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario
      January 1, 2014

      CCA, Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities

    • Hollywood, the Financial Crisis and the End of the World

      York University, Toronto, Ontario
      January 1, 2014

      Historical Materialism

    • A Critique of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

      Toronto, Ontario
      January 1, 2014

      Alternative Routes: Capitalism in the Classroom: Neoliberalism, Education and Progressive Alternatives

  • Links

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