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Natasha Schüll

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication; Director of Undergraduate Studies

Natasha Schüll s a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her work explores the psychic life of technology with a focus on themes of addiction, anxiety, and affect modulation. Her 2012 book, ADDICTION BY DESIGN: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press 2012), parses the intimate relationship between the experience of gambling addiction and casino industry design tactics, showing how architectural, atmospheric, ergonomic, audiovisual, and algorithmic-computational techniques are marshaled to suspend -- and monetize -- gamblers’ attention. Her current book project, KEEPING TRACK (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, under contract), explores the rise of sensor-based, digital technologies of the self and the new modes of self-care and self-regulation they offer. Her documentary film, BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas, has screened multiple times on PBS and appeared in numerous film festivals.

Schüll’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among other sources. Her work has been featured in such national media venues as 60 minutes, The New York Times, Economist, Atlantic, Mother Jones, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Financial Times, Forbes, Boston Globe, Salon, Chicago Tribune, Las Vegas Sun, 99% Invisible, NPR, WGBH, and WNYC.

Selected Publications


  • Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas. Princeton: Princeton University Press (2012)
  • Italian Translation: Architetture dell’azzardo: progettare il gioco, costruire la dipendenza, ed. by Marco Dotti and Marcello Esposito, trans. by Irene Sorrentino (Rome, Italy: Luca Sossella Editore, 2015)
  • Japanese Translation: デザインされたギャンブル依存症, trans. by Masamichi Higurashi 日暮雅通 (Tokyo: Seidosha, K.K. 青土社, 2018)
  • Chinese Translation: 运气的诱饵: 拉斯维加斯的赌博设计与失控的机器人生, trans. by Li Qi 李奇 (Beijing: Democracy and Construction Publishing House Co., Ltd. 民主与建设出版社有限责任公司, 2021)

Refereed Articles

  • Afterword: Shifting the terms of the debate. Special issue: “Shifting Attention.” Eds. N. Seaver, R. Jablonsky, T. Karppi, Science, Technology, & Human Values (2021)
  • The data-based self: self-quantification & the data-driven (good) life. Social Research International Quarterly, 86.4 (2019): 909-930.
  • Digital containment and its discontents. History of Anthropology 29: 1 (2018): 42-48.
  • The datafication of health (coauthor M. Ruckenstein). Annual Rev of Anthropology 46 (2017): 261-78
  • Abiding chance: Online poker and the software of self-discipline. Public Culture 28: 3 (2016): 563-92
  • Data for life: Wearable technology and the design of self-care. BioSocieties 11 (2016): 317-333
  • Gambled away: Video poker and self-suspension. Anthropology Now 4: 2 (2012): 1-13


Media, Culture, and Communication

Our media studies programs train agile researchers of a shifting media landscape. Learn to analyze media and technology in its cultural, social, and global contexts.

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