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William John Mitchell, PhD
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL 60637-5418)
Seeing Madness: Insanity, Media, and Visual Culture

The writing of a book on how a range of media informs understandings of mental illness.

The mentally ill constitute one of the fastest growing underprivileged minorities in advanced societies today, suffering from a range of disabilities that seem to grow even faster than the number of pharmacological “cures” that are developed to treat them. I propose to write a book entitled “Seeing Madness: Insanity, Media, and Visual Culture,” re-framing the question of mental illness in relation to its representations in the arts, media, and visual culture. Madness, I will argue, should not be “seen as” a simple physical or even psychological disability, but as a complex set of intersubjective and social syndromes that range across individual and collective pathologies. My account will accordingly be designed as a counterpoint between a “big picture” of madness in relation to its long history of representations, and the singular case of an artist and filmmaker who suffered from schizophrenia, and whose lifetime project was to make madness visible both from inside and outside.

Project fields:
Arts, General

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017