Jennifer Forestal

My research investigates how networked technologies like social media have complicated the traditional relationship between space and politics. In my dissertation, "Bringing the Site Back In: Social Media and the Politics of Space," I trace the relationship between public space and political life in the work of John Dewey and Hannah Arendt in order to think about the politics of physical spaces and the "spaces" of social media.

As a way of further exploring the relationships between space(s) and politics, I turn to architecture. Drawing on the work of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Kenneth Frampton, and George Baird, I show how these architects built upon Dewey and Arendt's conceptual frameworks in order to build and maintain spaces that foster and support democratic communities. Extending their discussions, largely focused on (re)building 20th-century cities, to the digital sites of social media, my dissertation offers a spatial analysis of social media that offers insights into the ways in which we can design, build, and maintain more democratic spaces in the new digital environment.

I am Assistant Professor of Political Science (Theory) at Stockton University in New Jersey.  I previously received my Ph.D in Political Science at Northwestern University and my BA from the Ohio State University with a BA summa cum laude in Political Science and Comparative Cultural Studieswith distinction in Political Science.

My research draws from the history of political thought, particularly in the American tradition, to  investigate the relationship between space, politics, and technology.

In much of my work, I explore the political consequences of digital technologies. Much of our contemporary political activity occurs online; despite their emphasis on entertainment, digital and social media are increasingly politically important because they are the spaces in which individuals create, share, and discuss content related to issues of public concern.

Using resources from political theory, traditional architecture, and computer science, I study the political effects of digital technologies from the perspective of a democratic theorist. As a result, my work provides insights into the ways in which we can design, build, and maintain more democratic spaces using digital media. 

In addition to my substantive theoretical interests, I am also actively engaged in scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly around questions of civic learning and engagement both in and outside of the classroom.