W. J. T. Mitchell - "Mental Traveler: A Father, a Son, and a Journey Through Schizophrenia" - Virtual Event

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
W. J. T. Mitchell

W. J. T. Mitchell will discuss Mental Traveler: A Father, a Son, and a Journey Through Schizophrenia. He will be joined in conversation by Lauren Berlant. Their conversation will be followed by an audience Q&A and a poetry reading and performance by flutist Janice Misurell-Mitchell. The conversation will be preceded by the pilot for a film by Carmen Mitchell about Gabriel Mitchell's life.

Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Creative Writing Program

Virtual event


About the book: W. J. T. Mitchell’s memoir tells the story of one family’s encounter with mental illness and bears witness to the life of the talented young man who was his son. Gabriel Mitchell was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age twenty-one and died by suicide eighteen years later. He left behind a remarkable archive of creative work and a father determined to honor his son’s attempts to conquer his own illness. Before his death, Gabe had been working on a film that would show madness from inside and out, as media stereotype and spectacle, symptom and stigma, malady and minority status, disability and gateway to insight. He was convinced that madness is an extreme form of subjective experience that we all endure at some point in our lives, whether in moments of ecstasy or melancholy, or in the enduring trauma of a broken heart. Gabe’s declared ambition was to transform schizophrenia from a death sentence to a learning experience, and madness from a curse to a critical perspective. Shot through with love and pain, Mental Traveler shows how Gabe drew his father into his quest for enlightenment within madness. It is a book that will touch anyone struggling to cope with mental illness, and especially for parents and caregivers of those caught in its grasp.

About the author: W. J. T. Mitchell is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, and the senior editor of Critical Inquiry. His books include Iconology, Picture Theory, and Seeing Through Race.

About the interlocutor: Lauren Berlant is the George M. Pullman Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Berlant is the author or editor of eight books, including Cruel Optimism and The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture, as well as their most recent book, The Hundreds (with Kathleen Stewart).

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