Past Event

Seeing Through Race: A Conversation with W.J.T. Mitchell

Due to unforeseen circumstances, W.J.T Mitchell is unable to participate in this conversation. In his place, Barbara Ransby– Professor of African American Studies, History, and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago– will speak about issues of race, post-race, and racism.

For W.J.T. Mitchell, a “color-blind” post-racial world is neither achievable nor desirable. Against popular claims that race is an outmoded construct that distracts from more important issues, in his new book — Seeing Through Race — Mitchell contends that race remains essential to our understand of social reality. Mitchell uses visual culture, iconology, and media studies to powerfully reframe our understanding of race and racism. This conversation will be moderated by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore. Attendees will also have the opportunity to break down into smaller, facilitated discussion groups — Cafe Society style — to dig deeper into issues of race and racism. 

The Public Square and WBEZ  present this special Cafe Society conversation as part of “Race: Out Loud” – a summer long series produced by WBEZ and vocalo, aiming to hear what people have to say about race in 2012. 

W. J. T. Mitchell is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. A scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature, Mitchell is associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). He is known especially for his work on the relations of visual and verbal representations in the context of social and political issues. Under his editorship, Critical Inquiry has published special issues on public art, psychoanalysis, pluralism, feminism, the sociology of literature, canons, race and identity, narrative, the politics of interpretation, postcolonial theory, and many other topics. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Morey Prize in art history given by the College Art Association of America. In 2003, he received the University of Chicago’s prestigious Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. His publications include: “The Pictorial Turn,” Artforum, March 1992; “What Do Pictures Want?” October, Summer 1996;What Do Pictures Want? (2005)The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon (1998)Picture Theory (1994)Art and the Public Sphere (1993)Landscape and Power (1992)Iconology(1987)The Language of Images (1980)On Narrative (1981); and The Politics of Interpretation  (1984). 

Free and open to the public. Reserve your spot here. For more information please call 312.422.5580.

If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580. For parking locations near the facility, please visit