Photo of Sheryl Hamilton

Sheryl Hamilton


Degrees:LL.B. (Saskatchewan), B.A., M.A. (Carleton), Ph.D. (Concordia)
Office:C463 Loeb Building
4316 Richcraft Hall

Sheryl N. Hamilton is a Professor, equally cross-appointed to the School of Journalism and Communication and the Department of Law and Legal Studies. She holds a J.D. in Law from the University of Saskatchewan (1988), an M.A. in Communication from Carleton University (1995), and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Concordia University (2000). She was the Canada Research Chair in Communication, Law and Governance (2003-2013) and is a Fellow of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Royal Society of Canada.

Current Research

My current program of research explores the senses, bodies, media, and regulation in the context of ubiquitous disease threats. From public health handwashing poster campaigns, to changing norms around social touch, to popular culture and media representations of disease risk, to viral photography, I am interested in exploring how it feels to live in a pandemic culture.

I have also recently returned to the epistemological construct of the ‘social science fiction’ to explore contemporary issues in genetic science, non-human personhood, and the virus.

Other research interests include: freedom of expression, patents and biotechnology, personhood in law and popular culture, law and emotions, and Canadian copyright.


  • Communication and the senses
  • Sensory legal studies
  • Disease, communication and media
  • Intellectual property
  • Science and media
  • Bodies and regulation
  • Freedom of expression
  • Qualitative methods and methodology
  • Communication theory
  • Regulation and governance

Graduate Students

I have supervised 48 Master’s students, 9 Ph.D. students, 2 postdoctoral fellows and 15 honours research essay students to completion on a wide range of topics, including:

  • philosophy and communication
  • celebrity culture
  • cultural regulation and cultural policy
  • moral regulation
  • privacy
  • gender and media
  • popular culture
  • cultural studies of food
  • gender and sexuality
  • discourse theory
  • surveillance
  • animal rights
  • personhood
  • science and media
  • law and emotions
  • and many other topics!

Selected Publications


Law’s Expression: Communication, Law and Media (2019), (with Sandra Robinson), LexisNexis.

Becoming Biosubjects: Bodies. Systems. Technologies. (2013/2011), (with Neil Gerlach, Rebecca Sullivan, and Priscilla Walton), University of Toronto Press. Winner of the G.J. Robinson Book Prize, 2012.

Impersonations: Troubling the Person in Law and Culture (2009), University of Toronto Press. Winner of the Canadian Law and Society Association Best Book Prize, 2010.

Edited Collections and Special Issues Edited

Sensuous Governance (2020), special issue of The Senses and Society 15(1)

Mediating Disease Cultures (2019), special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication 44(2).

Sensing Law (2017), (with D. Majury, D. Moore, N. Sargent and C. Wilke), Routledge.

Social Science Fictions (2003), special issue of Science Fiction Studies (with Neil Gerlach), 30(2).

Book Chapters and Articles


“Feeling by Looking: Public Health Handwashing Posters as Emplaced Vital Media” in Communication and Health (J. Greenberg and C. Elliott, eds.), Palgrave, Winter 2020.


“Hands in Cont(r)act: The Resiliency of Business Handshakes in Pandemic Culture” in Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Special Issue Explorations in Sensori-Legal Studies 34(2): 343-360.

“Mediating Disease Cultures: Introduction” in Canadian Journal of Communication, 44.2: 151-156.

“Envisioning a Habitus of Hygiene: Hands as Disease Media in Public Health Handwashing Campaigns” in Canadian Journal of Communication, 44.2: 263-288.


The Charismatic Cultural Life of Cybernetics: Reading Norbert Wiener as Visible Scientist” in special issue of Canadian Journal of Communication on the Margins of Cybernetics, 42(3): 407-429.

“Rituals of Intimate Legal Touch: Regulating the End-of-Game Handshake in Pandemic Culture” in The Senses and Society, 12(1): 53-68.

“Sensing Law: Introduction” (with D. Majury, D. Moore, and N. Sargent) in Sensing Law (S. Hamilton, D. Majury, D. Moore, N. Sargent and C. Wilke, eds.) London: Routledge, pp. 1-29.

“Epilogue” in Sensing Law (S. Hamilton, D. Majury, D. Moore, N. Sargent and C. Wilke, eds.) London: Routledge, pp. 280-283.


Playing at Apocalypse: Reading Plague Inc. in and as Pandemic Culture” (Equal co-authorship with Scott Mitchell) in Convergence: The Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies (2016): 1-20.

“ ‘Human no like smart ape’: Figuring the Ape as Legal Person in Rise of the Planet of the Apes” in Law and Humanities, 10(2): 1-22. See


“Trafficking in Zombie: The CDC Zombie Apocalypse Campaign, Diseaseability and Pandemic Culture” (equal co-authorship with Neil Gerlach) in a special issue Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media on the circulation of horror imagery at


“Considering Critical Communication Studies in Canada” in Mediascapes: New Patterns in Canadian Communication (Leslie Regan Shade, ed.), Scarborough, ON: Nelson – significantly revised version, pp. 4-24.

“Critical? No Question! Why critical communication study is still relevant, and even necessary in our contemporary mediascape” in Communication in Question (Joshua Greenberg and Charlene Elliott, eds.), Scarborough, ON: Nelson, pp. 57-65.


“Supernatural Bureaucracy: Legal Rationality in Dark Fantasy Literature” (equal co-authorship with Neil Gerlach) in Journal of Law, Culture and Humanities 6: 394-419.


“Identity Theft and the Construction of Creditable Subjects” in Surveillance:  Power, Problems and Politics (Sean P. Hier and Joshua Greenberg, eds.), Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 116-139.


“Not-so-Intellectual: Have Intellectual Property Rights Run Amok” in Communication in Question (Charlene Elliott and Joshua Greenberg, eds.), Nelson, pp. 250-8.

“Now It’s Getting Personal: Copyright Issues in Canada” in How Canadians Communicate, vol. II (David Taras, ed.), Calgary: University of Calgary Press, pp. 244-320.


“From Mad Scientist to Bad Scientist: Richard Seed as Biogovernmental Event” (equal co-authorship with Neil Gerlach) in special issue on Communication, Biotechnology and the Body, Communication Theory, 15(2005): 78-99.

“Made in Canada:  A Unique Solution to Internet Service Provider Liability and Copyright Issues” in In the Public Interest:  Canadian Copyright Reform (Michael Geist, ed.), Irwin Law, pp. 285-308.


“Preserving Self in the City of the Imagination:  Georg Simmel and Dark City” (equal co-authorship with Neil Gerlach) in Canadian Review of American Studies, 34.2: 115-34.


“Introduction: A History of Social Science Fiction” (equal co-authorship with Neil Gerlach) Science Fiction Studies 30(2), July 2003: 161-173.

“Traces of the Future: Biotechnology, Science Fiction and the Media” in Science Fiction Studies, 30(2), July 2003: 267-282.