Barry Vacker

Barry Vacker

Associate Professor of Instruction

Media Studies and Production

Tomlinson Theater, Room 224
1301 West Norris Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Academic Expertise: Media Studies and Culture

My projects explore how utopia, dystopia, and human destiny have been represented in art, media, technology, and culture. I use an “arts and sciences” approach to creatively and critically theorize the intersection of media, philosophy, culture, and technology, all of which shape human destiny around the world.

Teaching Mentor: 2009 – 2013

Since 2009, I have been serving as the Teaching Mentor for the faculty in the School of Communications and Theater. I will be working with colleagues and the Teaching and Learning Center to improve their teaching performances in a variety of classes, from small seminars to the large lecture-style courses.

Office Hours:

Tuesday: 9:45AM – 10:45PM

Tuesday and Thursday: 12:45PM – 1:45PM


PhDCommunicationsThe University of Texas at Austin

Courses Taught

MSP 1011Introduction to Media TheoryUndergraduate
MSP 1021Media and SocietyUndergraduate
MSP 4153Media Criticism (Topic: Media, Culture and “the End of the World”)Undergraduate
MSP 4445Media Images and Analysis (Topic: Utopia in Media and Culture)Undergraduate
MSP 5011Introduction to Communication ConceptsGraduate
MSP 5041Media Content and Behavior (Topic: Post-Millennial Culture and the Media)Graduate



Barry Vacker, “Space Junk and the Second Event: The Cosmic Meaning of the Zombie Apocalypse,” Thinking Dead: What the Zombie Apocalypse Means, edited by Murali Balaji, New York: Lexington Books, 2013.

Barry Vacker and Genevieve Gillespie, “Yearning to Be the Center of Everything, When We Are the Center of Nothing: Parallels and Reversals in Chaco, Hubble, and Facebook,” Telematics and Informatics, Special Edition on Facebook; Volume 30, Issue 1, February 2013, 35-46. For link to article, click here

Barry Vacker, “Into the Voids and Vanishing Points: Spaceship Earth and Space Age Media Theory,” McLuhan’s Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference, Contact Forum, The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, 2013.

Barry Vacker and Agreen Wang, “Black Holes in the Electronic Galaxies: Metaphor Resistance in the Information Society?” The Unconnected: Social Justice, Participation and Engagement in the Information Society, edited by Paul M.A. Baker, Jarice Hanson, and Jeremy Hunsinger (New York: Peter Lang Press 2013).


My book, The End of the World — Again: Why the Apocalypse Meme Replicates in Media, Science, and Culture(2012)was the first official publication of the Center for Media and Destiny. The Centeris a 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank.

• Barry and The End of the World — Again were featured in a 2013 interview produced by Wisconsin Public Radio; the interview aired in 180 markets via Public Radio International. To listen to the interview, click here


My text anthology, Media Environments(2011), was published by Cognella Publishing. This anthology combines movies with texts to critique media and society. Authors include: Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Naomi Klein, Carl Sagan, Naomi Wolf, Susan Jacoby, Neil Postman, Henry Jenkins, Douglas Rushkoff, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jan Fernback, Ray Kurzweil, Douglas Kellner, and many others. Their writings are introduced to students through films like Network, Contact, American Beauty, Fight Club, The Truman Show, Slumdog Millionaire, Waking Life, WALL•E, Good Night, and Good Luck, and many others.


Barry Vacker, “The Utopian Moment, Now?” Essay for the photography exhibit, Before and After Utopia: Images of Urban Abandonment, Absence, and Aspiration (Olivia Antsis, curator), Open Lens Gallery, Philadelphia, September 15 – November 20, 2011. Part of the annual Design Philadelphia Festival.

My essay, “The Zero Zero Decade” was featured in an illustrated spread in Useless art magazine (Volume 10, 2010), for a special edition on the decade of “The Naughts.” The magazine used images from the artist Stacey Steers for the essay, which was an adaptation of my experimental book, Zero Conditions(2008).


My film, Space Times Square, was awarded the “2010 John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in the Field of Media Ecology” by the Media Ecology Association. The film has screened in numerous festivals and conferences around the world: Brussels, Beijing, NYC, Hamburg, Dallas, Philadelphia, Paris. Film may be viewed in Vimeo.

Space Times Square was screened at the McLuhan Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference, Frei University, Brussels, October 26-28, 2011.


On January 31, 2010, my book, Slugging Nothing: Fighting the Future in Fight Club, reached #1 in Amazon Kindle’s “Criticism” section.

• In 2013, Barry and Slugging Nothing were featured in an interview for Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Film and Philosophy” series; the interview aired in 180 markets via Public Radio International. To listen to the interview, clickhere


I wrote the text for Peter Granser’s photography book, Signs(2008), published by Hatje Cantz (Stuttgart) and the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Photography. Granser is a German photographer specializing in contemporary American culture. The photos and book have been featured in numerous exhibits around the world.

2008 TEXT FOR BOOK: Lone Stars, Lost Amidst the Big Bang

2008 BOOK CHAPTER: Slugging Nothing

2006 BOOK CHAPTER: Cosmic Vertigo on the Isle of Lost

2006 BOOK CHAPTER: Vanishing Points, Between Pixel and Paradise

Lectures / Conferences

Art, media and cosmology: visualizing our place and destiny in the universe2012
Being and nothingness in the information age2005
Black holes amidst the global spectacle2003
Bullet-time, two big bangs, two bad sequels2004
Death Valley and Las Vegas: Baudrillard’s theory of the desert and dystopia2004
Fahrenheit 9/11: The temperature at which theory burns2004
Metanarratives in a meaningless universe?2011
No exit/must exit2004
Notes on New Orleans2005
Parallel and paradox: the desert and digital culture2004
Population zero: after utopia2009
The “zero” tomorrow2005
The digital revolution or the destiny of television?2004
The Matrix and Atlantis — Plato’s paradox and postmodern parallels2003
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel2005
Times Square and TV screens2005
Utopia and the Starry Skies2009
Vanishing points at the center, edge, and end of2011

Additional Projects

TitleDescriptionDates Active
Space Times Square

Experimental documentary film

Theory Zero books

Experimental book series; I wrote the first three volumes of the series, which are available in Amazon as paperbacks and Kindle ebooks: Zero Conditions (Theory Vortex 2008), Crashing Into the Vanishing Points (Theory Vortex 2009), Starry Skies Moving Away (Theory Vortex 2009)



NameType of ServicePositionDates Active
BTMM Curriculum CommitteeDepartmentalChair2010–2012
Periodic Program Review CommitteeDepartmentalChair2008–2009
Faculty Teaching MentorCollege2009–2012
University Art CommitteeUniversityMember2011–2013


TitleType of AwardDate
The John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in the Field of Media Ecology, Media Ecology AssociationCreative2010