Ryan lectures in media studies. His research draws on media studies, critical theory, cultural studies, and science and technology studies.
He has conducted ethnographic research into the use of new media technologies such as iPads and other tablet computers, by scientists working in fields such as chemistry, genetics, neuroscience and biology. His research focuses on everyday practices related to digital media, and seeks to critique ways in which media technologies are involved in the production and maintenance of identities.
Ryan lecturers in Media, Industry and Communication BA Media, Industry and Innovation
Before entering academia, he worked as a musician, giving him an interest in the cultural industries more broadly.
His BA and MA studies in Media, Cultural Studies and Critical Theory (University of Nottingham) led him to develop an interest in technoscientific ideologies. His PhD research (University of Sussex) focused on the use of new media technologies in the expert context of the science lab. This ethnographic research in a variety of science labs showed how scientists used and discussed tablet computers and other ‘everyday’ technologies in ways that helped maintain their own sense of identity as expert technology users. Developing these ideas, Ryan also researches the cultural and political contexts which lead to new media technologies being adopted in academic and commercial institutions.
Ryan has previously taught on a range of undergraduate courses at Sussex and Brighton, with a particular focus on digital media studies. He has also developed and taught on Widening Participation courses, which aim to introduce university study to school and college students who may not have considered this option. He is interested in research supervision of projects which draw on both media and cultural studies, and science and technology studies.
As a student I was inspired by tutors who were clearly passionate about the subject, and who wanted to share their excitement about the topic of discussion. I always aim to follow that example in my own teaching.
Any analysis of the media should begin with a reflection on one’s own media consumption. To encourage this, students might be asked to draw a plan of their home and locate media technologies within it, to critically analyse how media is related to power relations in specific settings. Students may make a ‘mass observation’ diary where they record their media consumption in detail over a week, to see how their personal use of media is not just personal: it links to the rhythms of a wider society.
Whatever the topic of study, students bring in their own media examples to discuss each week. This gives students ownership over the academic material. It also helps to show them how the academic theory we study does not simply belong in the seminar room: it applies in their everyday lives.
Expert guest speakers are invited to give lectures or lead seminars where they can help give an insight into specific areas. For example, hearing from a scientist working in public engagement can help to explain and contextualise theories of communication and public knowledge.
Taken together, these approaches cater for a range of different learning preferences and ensure that everyone in the class can develop confidence in their ability to engage with the academic material.