My main teaching areas encompass advertising, consumption, and media history. The MIT courses I offer include: Advertising and the Mass Media and The History of Communication.
I also teach in the Media Studies M.A. Program ("Consumption and Advertising" course)
My early research dealt with political censorship and the National Film Board during the Cold War. During the 1990s, my work examined the impact of opinion polling on North American public life. The historical dimension of this is covered in my book The Measure of Democracy: Polling, Market Research, and Public Life, 1930-1945 (University of Toronto Press, 1999).
I'm currently at work on two projects: 1) a history of controversial product marketing/advertising in North America (patent medicines, chewing gum, whisky, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals); 2) tobacco promotion in Canada from the 1950s until the present. Examples of these works include:
“Marketing and Regulating Cigarettes in Canada, 1957-1971," in Pierre Lanthier and Claude Bellavance, eds., Les Territoires de l'entreprise (Les presses de l'Université Laval, 2004), 243-261; and "Sui Generis: Tobacco Sponsorship Advertising and Canadian Campus Newspapers," Canadian Journal of Communication 33 (2008), 257-270; "Tobacco promotions at point-of-sale: the last hurrah," Canadian Journal of Public Health, 2008; 99 (3), 166-171 (and Cohen J, Planinac L, Lavack A, O'Connor S, Thompson F); "'The Luxury of Moderate Use': Seagram and Moderation Advertising, 1934-1955," in G. Allen and D. Robinson, eds., Communicating Canada's Past: Approaches to the History of Print and Broadcast Media, (University of Toronto Press, 2009); “Changes in Retail Tobacco Promotions in a Cohort of Stores Before, During and After a Tobacco Product Display Ban,” American Journal of Public Health, 101, 10, (Oct. 2011), 1879-1881 (and JE Cohen, L Planinac, A Lavack, S. O’Connor, J. Di Nardo);
“Lottery Promotions at the Point-of-Sale in Ontario, Canada”, Journal of Gambling Studies, 27, 2 (June 2011), 345-354 (and LC Planiac, JE Cohen, A. Lavack, D. Korn); “Mail-Order Doctors and Market Research, 1890-1930,” in H. Berghoff, P. Scranton and U. Spiekermann, eds., The Rise of Marketing and Market Research (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 73-93
I have a general interest in the historical development of mass media and processes of commercialization. These themes are taken up in my edited book Communication History in Canada, (Oxford University Press, 2004; 2nd ed. 2009) and in the co-edited book (with Gene Allen), Communicating in Canada's Past: Approaches to the History of Print and Broadcast Media, (University of Toronto Press, 2009), along with this article: “’Part of the University Lexicon’: Marketing and Ontario Universities,” Canadian Journal of Communication, 38, 4 (2013), 563-584 (and L. Bolan)