This article poses the question: what are the ends of media studies? It discusses a turn to “nature” and the elements that has pushed media studies beyond its traditional objects and subjects. While the conceptualization of environments and bodies as communicative substrates offers new avenues for media research, mediation has also been taken up in a wide range of disciplinary and intellectual contexts. Rather than establishing limits or an essential core of media studies, the article suggests that media scholars take an etic orientation and attend to the questions whose invisibility is constitutive of the field. Using the example of undersea cable systems, the article describes some of the many conceptual, institutional, and pedagogical ends of media analysis.

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