Esther Milne. Email and the Everyday: Stories of Disclosure, Trust, and Digital Labor. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021. 336p. Hardcover, $35.00 (ISBN 978-0-262-04563-6).

Mark A. Matienzo


As academic library workers, we often disparage the ways in which email runs our lives as a bureaucratic and affective technology. Typically we give it no more thought due to its banality in our lives. It is strangely familiar, boring, and often an afterthought, until we make a poorly calculated, and usually extraordinary, misstep. Esther Milne argues that this tension between the banal and extraordinary is what makes email a compelling focus for media and cultural studies, given the arrival of “moments where email communication becomes odd, unfamiliar, and at times perhaps even exotic” (15). Despite its omnipresence, Milne notes that email has been largely overlooked by these fields, and this book is an ambitious attempt at undertaking a wide view of email as a larger media landscape. For Milne, email is never simply just correspondence; it must be understood broadly in terms of its structure, infrastructure, and variant contexts of use.

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