Alexander Weheliye serves as Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Northwestern University. Professor Weheliye researches in the areas of Diasporic Literature and Culture, Critical Theory, and Popular Culture. He has published numerous publications in these areas, and his book Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro- Modernity won the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Study of Black American Literature and Culture.
His lecture “Ideogrammatics and Physiognomy” drew from his current project on the use of visual materials in the works of W.E.B. Du Bois and Walter Benjamin. He argued “for a pivotal link between ‘artistic’ and ‘scientific’ visual prototypes in Du Bois’s and Benjamin’s analytics of civilization, each of which deploys and embraces the latest developments in statistical graphics and photography while concurrently exposing the limitations of these systems.” He concluded that “Du Bois’s early engagement with and turn away from and Benjamin’s later deployment of social scientific methods is marked by a commitment to the historical as it is embodied in visual forms inasmuch as it eschews the progressive presentism often found in the sociological discourses of the period.”