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Vanderbilt's Jonathan Metzl to deliver Krieger Lecture

This year’s Krieger Lecture in American Political Culture, “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Shaped the American Pandemic,” will be given by Jonathan Metzl, the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University.

The lecture is set for March 29 in the Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium (KG70) in Klarman Hall.

“We are very excited to have a discussion that covers the disproportionate spread of the pandemic in underserved communities, the problem of racial attitudes in the U.S. and the way that resistance to the motto of 'Black lives matter' has intersected with anti-Asian prejudice to make attitudes about masking and vaccination hinge on ideas about race, specifically whiteness,” said Shirley Samuels, director of American Studies and professor of Literatures in English in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Metzl is the winner of the 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Book Award, the 2020 APA Benjamin Rush Award for Scholarship and is a 2008 Guggenheim fellow. He has written extensively for medical, psychiatric, and popular publications and is an expert on mental illness and gun violence. Metzl’s books include “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland,” “The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease,” “Prozac on the Couch: Prescribing Gender in the Era of Wonder Drugs,” and “Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality.”

“Jonathan Metzl’s scholarship on the ways gender, race, and racism shaped psychiatric science after World War II has been among the most groundbreaking and influential scholarship on the history of mental illness and mental healthcare in the last two decades," said Stephen Vider, assistant professor of history in A&S and director of the Cornell Public History Initiative. "His latest book brings similar questions to the recent past, exploring how racial resentment has led lower and middle-class white Americans to vote and act against their own self-preservation, most centrally in gun control and healthcare. The book was first published in March 2019, but feels only more relevant amidst the ongoing COVID pandemic."

The Krieger Lecture is sponsored by the American Studies Program and was endowed by Sanford ‘65 and Carol Krieger in 2000. It is free and open to the Cornell public.  The talk will be simultaneously livestreamed at eCornell.

Jonathan Mong '25 is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.

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