Ned O’Gorman is Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois and author of several books, most recently Politics for Everybody: Reading Hannah Arendt in Uncertain Times (University of Chicago Press, translated into German, Korean, and Chinese) — a lively defense of politics in an age of political crises and an introduction to the political thinking of Hannah Arendt. In 2020 the University of Illinois named him University Scholar.
In a sense, the main message of O’Gorman’s book (Politics for Everybody) is that, if we are to properly rise to the challenges of the twenty-first century, in a world that is increasingly characterized by change and uncertainty and where strangers are, literally, at our doors, we need to relearn the art of living together, as strangers and across our differences, and of imagining and creating together new, relatively stable political orders.
-Mihaela Czobor-Lupp, The Review of Politics
O’Gorman has written at the intersections of history, criticism, and political theory, with special emphasis on the rhetorical and ideological legacies of the Cold War and their implications for American political culture. He is the author of three books on the Cold War and its aftermath: He is the author of The Iconoclastic Imagination: Image, Catastrophe, and Economy in America since the Kennedy Assassination (University of Chicago Press), which won the 2016 Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award, sponsored by the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research. His first book, Spirits of the Cold War: Contesting Worldviews in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy, came out in 2012, and was reviewed widely, including in The New Republic.
He is the co-author, with Kevin Hamilton, of the award-winning book, Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Film Studio at the Heart of the Cold War. It was published in 2018 with over 600 images by Dartmouth College Press and was a basis of the Smithsonian documentary “Atomic Age Declassified: Filming the Bomb” and has informed other documentaries and exhibits on the nuclear age in the United States and Europe. The book is centered on the largely forgotten history of Lookout Mountain Laboratory, a U.S. Air Force film studio responsible for many of the most iconic images of the Cold War, from mushroom clouds to space monkeys (see lookoutamerica.org). But its analysis extends well beyond the film studio to the Cold War it helped construct.
O’Gorman has also published in political theory, rhetorical theory, and media studies. He is currently the editor of the Journal for the History of Rhetoric (see here), published by Penn State University Press and the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. In 2012-13 he was a Research Fellow at the University of Illinois’s Center for Advanced Study; in 2013-15 he was a faculty member in the Learning to See Systems initiative at the University of Illinois; and in the 2015-16 academic year he was Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. In 2014 he was awarded College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Illinois. In addition to his departmental home, Communication, he is affiliated at Illinois with the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, the Program for Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security and the Center for Writing Studies.
He has been a writer at The Infernal Machine, the Huffington Post, and The Hedgehog Review. He tweets every once in a while at @ned_ogorman. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses ranging from the history of rhetoric to rhetorical theory to Cold War culture to media theory. Presently he is writing a book about the intellectual origins of the national security state, provisionally titled Liberty’s Empire: Liberal Lineages of the National Security State.
His full vita can be found OGormanVitaSpring_2022.