W.J.T. Mitchell: Political Madness: Ancient Rome and Modern America

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Cornell in Rome Fall 2022 Lecture Series

W. J. T. Mitchell is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago.  He served as Chair of the English Department from 1988–91 and has been the editor of Critical Inquiry since 1978.  He received his B.A. from Michigan State University in 1963 and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1968. He taught in the English Department of Ohio State University from 1968–77 before moving to Chicago. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Mitchell is currently a James S. Ackerman Resident in the History of Art at the American Academy in Rome.

His work is primarily focused on the interplay of vision and language in art, literature, and media, and the subjects of his articles range from general problems in the theory of representation to specific issues in cultural politics and political culture. His books include Blake's Composite Art (Princeton, 1977), Iconology (Chicago, 1986), Picture Theory (Chicago, 1994), The Last Dinosaur Book (Chicago, 1998), What Do Pictures Want? (Chicago, 2005), Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9-11 to the Present (Chicago, 2011), Seeing Through Race (Harvard, 2012), Occupy: Three Essays in Disobedience (Chicago, 2013; coauthored with Michael Taussig and Bernard Harcourt), Image Science: Iconology, Media Aesthetics, and Art History (Chicago, 2015), and Mental Traveler: A Father, a Son, and a Journey through Schizophrenia (Chicago, 2020).

The lecture, titled "Political Madness:  Ancient Rome and Modern America," constitutes the final chapter of a book in progress Seeing through Madness.

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