Miami Presents: Brainwashed! How a Myth about Human Programming Changed History

Presented on: Tuesday, February 16th at 12:00 PM EST

View Upcoming Events View Past Event Recordings

Miami Alumni and friends are invited to join Dr. Timothy Melley for a special presentation: "Brainwashed! How a Myth about Human Programming Changed History." 

How did brainwashing become such a powerful and enduring notion?  This talk explores the cultural history of brainwashing from its emergence in the Korean War through its resurgence during the US War on Terror.  A powerful Cold War fantasy, brainwashing eventually became a staple of American culture, widely represented in literature and film, studied by eminent psychologists, and eventually made an official psychiatric diagnosis.  Beneath this cultural history, there  is a secret history of brainwashing as a tactic of clandestine warfare.  Brainwashing continues to have cultural force, not only as a way of understanding the radicalization of violent extremists, but also as a basis for some US military intelligence programs.  

Timothy Melley is Professor of English and Director of the Humanities Center at Miami University.  He is the author of more than 30 essays and short stories and two books, Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America (Cornell 2000), and The Covert Sphere: Secrecy, Fiction, and the National Security State (Cornell 2012). A teacher of American narrative and cultural history, he is the recipient of four teaching awards and the Benjamin Harrison Medallion for extraordinary teaching, research, and service at Miami. He has lectured widely in the United States and abroad, including Britain, Germany, Norway, Canada, South Korea, and Sweden, and his work has been covered by The Nation, BBC, L.A. Times, Village VoiceLe FigaroScientific American, The Wall Street Journal, and “This American Life.

Typed captions are available by clicking the "CC" icon near the bottom of the screen. 

This event is free to attend and is open to all Miami alumni, friends, and family. Registration is required.  If you are interested in financially supporting the Humanities Center and programs like these, please visit:

Please direct questions to J.J. Slager at


Give to the Humanities Center