Modern Language Association and College Art Association to Honor W. J. T. Mitchell with Lifetime Achievement Awards for English and Writing on Art

Freida High's painting "Hypericons: Homage to W. J. T. Mitchell" 2007. © Freida High. Photo by Jim Escalante.e.

Freida High's painting "Hypericons: Homage to W. J. T. Mitchell," 2007. © Freida High. Photo by Jim Escalante.

By Sara Patterson

Prof. W. J. T. Mitchell may be the only living iconologist on the planet. He draws on ideas from ancient and modern mythology that treat pictures as living things. As a historian of cultural images, Mitchell studies the relationship between words and images, cultivating visual and verbal literacy.

For his immense scholarly work in iconology and his 42 years as the editor of UChicago’s well-known humanities journal, Critical Inquiry, Mitchell will receive the Modern Language Association’s Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement on Jan. 5, 2024, in Philadelphia. He will be given the 2024 CAA Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art on Feb. 14, 2024, in Chicago. It is also a fitting finish to his teaching career at UChicago, which officially ends in January 2024. He has promised, however, to hang around Hyde Park, showing up for lectures, teaching an occasional course, and skating on the Midway.

UChicago Fourth-Year Student Earns Marshall Scholarship

Ethan Ostrow

On Dec. 11, it was publicly announced that Ethan Ostrow received the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which will enable him to study at the University of Oxford, where he will advance his work on incarceration reform by pursuing a graduate degree in socio-legal studies next fall. 

He is the 29th person affiliated with UChicago, since 1986, to win a Marshall Scholarship, which recognizes academic excellence, leadership and ambassadorial potential.

"Ethan's willingness to question the status quo and apply problem solving to the complexities of our justice system is inspiring, and exemplifies so many of the unique qualities that distinguish students here at UChicago," said Melina Hale, dean of the College. "We are so proud of Ethan, and this well deserved honor."

Two UChicago Scholars to Receive Scaglione Prizes from the Modern Language Association

Noemie Ndiaye (left) photo by John Zich and Maria Anna Mariani

For their books, Assoc. Prof. Noémie Ndiaye and Asst. Prof. Maria Anna Mariani respectively will receive the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies and for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association on Jan. 5, 2024.

Ndiaye’s book "Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race" (2022) examines how early modern theater and performance culture helped turn Blackness into a racial category and how that cultural decision still resonates today.

Mariani’s book "Italian Literature in the Nuclear Age: A Poetics of the Bystander" (2023) explores the position of the bystander in the atomic age by focusing on Italy as an example of paradoxical power and powerlessness. Her comprehensive study of Italian literary intellectuals’ engagement with the existential and political questions raised during the nuclear era shows its broader relevance.

UChicago Scholar Receives ASAP Book Prize

Tina Post

Asst. Prof. Tina Post became intrigued with how the gesture of expressionlessness operated in the 20th-century Black performances across literature, visual and performance art, film, theater, dance, the boxing ring and everyday life. For her original insights, she recently received the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present Best Book Prize for her first book, “Deadpan: The Aesthetics of Black Inexpression” (2023). The ASAP Prize recognizes the book that has made the most significant contribution to the study of the arts of the present.

Post contends that deadpan—dead is for inanimate, and pan is slang for face—is an investigation of the aesthetic affects at work at the intersection of Blackness and embodied expression.

“This book motivated by questions about the phenomenon I see,” said Post, assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the College at UChicago. “I had not read satisfying explorations about expressionlessness and its intersection with Blackness.”