Scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature W.J.T. Mitchell joins poet and scholar Charles Bernstein for a conversation on Mitchell’s recent book, “Mental Traveler: A Father, A Son, and a Journey through Schizophrenia”
In this talk
How does a parent make sense of a child’s severe mental illness? How does a father meet the daily challenges of caring for his gifted but delusional son, while seeking to overcome the stigma of madness and the limits of psychiatry? W. J. T. Mitchell’s memoir tells the story—at once representative and unique—of one family’s encounter with mental illness and bears witness to the life of the talented young man who was his son.
W. J. T. Mitchell 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.
Charles Bernstein is a poet and a scholar. He is a foundational member and leading practitioner of Language poetry. Between 1978-1981, with fellow poet Bruce Andrews, he published L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, which became a forum for writing that blurred, confused, and denied the boundary between poetry and critical writing about poetry. Since the 1970s Bernstein has published dozens of books, including poetry and essay collections, pamphlets, translations, collaborations, and libretti. His poetry has been widely anthologized and translated, and it has appeared in over 500 magazines and periodicals. His most recent book is Near/Miss, from the University of Chicago Press.