Mar 12th 2020

Françoise Meltzer discusses “Dark Lens: Imaging Germany, 1945.” She will be joined in conversation by W. J. T. Mitchell. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

About the book: The ruins of war have long held the power to stupefy and appall. Can such ruins ever be comprehended? Can images force us to identify with the suffering of the enemy and raise uncomfortable questions about forgiveness and revenge?

Françoise Meltzer explores these questions in “Dark Lens,” which uses the images of war ruins in Nazi Germany to investigate problems of aestheticization and the representation of catastrophe. Through texts that give accounts of bombed-out towns in Germany in the last years of the war, painters’ attempts to depict the destruction, and her own mother’s photographs taken in 1945, Meltzer asks if any medium offers a direct experience of war ruins for the viewer. Refreshingly accessible and deeply personal, Dark Lens is a compelling look at the role images play in constructing memory.

About the author: Françoise Meltzer is the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, where she is also professor at the Divinity School and in the College, and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature. Meltzer is the author of five books, most recently of “Seeing Double: Baudelaire’s Modernity,” and a co-editor of the journal Critical Inquiry.

About the interlocutor: W. J. T. Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of art, literature, and cinema at the University of Chicago. His many books include Image “Science: Iconology, Visual Culture, and Media Aesthetics” and “Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present.” He has served as editor-in-chief of the quarterly journal, Critical Inquiry, since 1978.

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