Mark T. Reinhardt

Mark Reinhardt

Class of 1956 Professor of American Civilization

Schapiro Hall Rm 237
At Williams since 1989


B.A. Wesleyan University (1983)
Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz, History of Consciousness (1991)

Areas of Expertise

I teach in both Political Science and American Studies.  My teaching interests range from ancient to contemporary political theory, as well as problems of democracy, public space, cultural analysis, race and slavery, visual politics, and the emerging politics of algorithmic systems.  My current research is shaped by a commitment to showing how political theory and political science can engage more fully with the visual domain, and why that matters.  Among my areas of particular interest are the ethics and politics of images and the place of visuality within the history of political thought (ancient and modern); I seek to understand contemporary technosocial transformations of imaging and our visual experience; and my work is engaged with debates about the relations between politics and aesthetics, broadly conceived.  Interwoven through my work in all these areas is a particular interest in the politics of racialization.



(not offered 2024/25)

PSCI 331 / AMST 349 / STS 349 SEM

The Politics of Algorithms (not offered 2024/25)

PSCI 374 / ARTH 526 SEM

Shadows of Plato's Cave: Image, Screen, and Spectacle (not offered 2024/25)


What Should Political Theory Be Now? (not offered 2024/25)

Scholarship/Creative Work

Book in Progress:  

Spectacular Theory:  Visual Politics from Plato’s Cave to Drone Warfare (Working Title)  

Published Books:

Radical Future Pasts:  Untimely Essays in Political Theory, University of Kentucky Press (2014), Coles, Reinhardt, Shulman, eds.

Who Speaks for Margaret Garner?, University of Minnesota Press (2010)

Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain, University of Chicago Press (2007), Reinhardt, Edwards, Duganne, eds.

Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress, MIT Press (2003), Berry, English, Patterson, and Reinhardt, eds.

The Art of Being Free: Taking Liberties with Tocqueville, Marx, and Arendt, Cornell University Press (1997)

Articles, Chapters, and Review Essays

“Spectacle, Surveillance, and the Ironies of Visual Politics in the Age of Autonomous Images,” Political Theory 51, no. 5 (2023): 814-842.

“The Cave of Images: Understanding Visual Politics in and through Plato’s Republic,” Theory & Event, 25, no. 2  (2022): 238-274.

“‘You Know, I Used to be a Jew’: Groucho Marx, Max Reinhardt, and the Transformation of American Studies,” Journal of the Austrian Association for American Studies 1, no. 1 (2019), 28-50.

“Violence,” in Roland Bleiker, ed., Visual Global Politics, Routledge (2018), 320-327.

“I Don’t Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello.  (On Taking Both the Visual and the Political Seriously).”  In Farewell to Visual Studies, Gustav Frank, Sunhil Manghani, and James Elkins, eds., Penn State University Press (2015), 230-233.

“Vision’s Unseen:  On Sovereignty, Race, and the Optical Unconscious,” Theory & Event 18, no. 4 (October 2015).
Republished in Photography and the Optical Unconscious, Shawn Michelle Smith and Sharon Sliwinski, eds., Duke University Press (2017), 174-222.

“Radical Future Pasts?  An Anti-Introduction.”  With Rom Coles and George Shulman, in Radical Future Pasts:  Untimely Essays in Political Theory. University Press of Kentucky (2014), 1-36.

“Theorizing the Event of Photography:  the Visual Politics of Violence and Terror in Azoulay’s Civil Imagination, Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance, and Mitchell’s Cloning Terror,” Theory & Event 16, no. 3 (September 2013).

“Stuff White People Know (or, What We Talk About When We Talk About Trayvon),” Theory & Event (September 2012).

“Painful Photographs:  From the Ethics of Spectatorship to Visual Politics.”  In Ethics and Images of Pain, Asbjørn Grønstad and Henrik Gustafsson, eds., Routledge (2012), 33-56.

“Traffic in Pain.” With Holly Edwards, in Reinhardt et al., Beautiful Suffering:  Photography and the Traffic in Pain, University of Chicago Press (2007), 7-12.

“Picturing Violence:  Aesthetics and the Anxiety of Critique,” in ibid., 13-36.

“End Paper: Through the Lens of Pain, ” Chronicle of Higher Education (The Chronicle Review) 53, no. 29 (March 23, 2007): B19. (Excerpt from “Traffic in Pain.”)

“What’s New in Arendt?” Political Theory, 31, no. 3 (June 2003):  443-460.

“The Art of Racial Profiling,” in Kara Walker:  Narratives of a Negress.  Ian Berry, Darby English, Vivian Patterson, Mark Reinhardt, eds. MIT Press with the Tang Museum and Williams College Museum of Art (2003), 108-129.

Republished by Rizzoli, 2007.

“Who Speaks for Margaret Garner?  Slavery, Silence, and the Politics of Ventriloquism,” Critical Inquiry 29, no. 1 (Fall 2002):  81-119.

“Constitutional Sentimentality,” Theory & Event 4, no. 1 (May 2000).

“The Song Remains the Same:  Communitarianism’s Cultural Politics,” in Political Theory and Cultural Studies, Jodi Dean, ed., Cornell University Press (2000), 95-114.

“Look Who’s Talking:  Political Subjects, Political Objects, and Political Discourse in Contemporary Theory,” Political Theory 23, no. 4 (November 1995): 689-719.