Michael Mark Cohen


Michael Mark Cohen

Associate Teaching Professor of American Studies and African American Studies

E: mmcohen@berkeley.edu

Academic Biography

Michael Mark Cohen was born in Denver, Colorado, the child of two public school teachers. He holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University (2004). He is currently an Associate Teaching Professor at UCB with a joint appointment in American Studies and African American Studies. His general research and teaching areas cover the cultural and political history of the United States from the Civil War to the Present. Areas of emphasis include racial capitalism and racial formations in the United States; labor, work and radical social movements; Marx and the Marxist tradition in world history and theory; cultural studies, popular culture and US film and literature; theories of conspiracy and conspiracy theories; political cartooning and comic books; race and drugs in US history; and contemporary US politics and social change. 

Prof. Cohen won the American Cultures Innovation in Teaching Prize in 2011. 

Recent course offerings include:
AFAM 27AC: Lives of Struggle: Minorities in a Majority Culture
AFAM 113AC / ENGLISH 166AC: Racial Capitalism
AFAM 142AC: Race and American Film
AFAM / PUBPOL C20AC: Election 2020 (Fall 2020) – Full course available on Youtube
AFAM 240: Special Topics in the Cultural Studies of the Diaspora: Readings in Racial Capitalism
L&S 25: Arts & Design @Berkeley: California Countercultures (Spring 2017) – Full course available on Youtube
AMST 101: A History of the Present: The US Since 9/11/2001
AMST 101AC: World War II 
AMST 102: The Workplace
AMST 110: Readings in Cultural Theory
AMST: H110: The Secret History of America


Prof. Cohen’s research and publication record focuses on questions of racism, class struggle and American social movements. His book The Conspiracy of Capital: Law, Violence and American Popular Radicalism in the Age of Monopoly was published by University of Massachusetts Press in 2019. His academic writings have appeared in American Quarterly, The International Review of Social History, Radical History Review, Qui Parle, Journal of the Study of Radicalism, and Southern Cultures. His writings for a popular audience have appeared in Gawker.com, al-Jazeera English, The Huffington Post, The New Ohio Review, The Comics Journal and on Medium.com. You can find his digital archive of early 20th century socialist cartoons at www.cartooningcapitalism.com. You can find a video of his public lecture on the work of Thomas Pynchon here, and his public advocacy work here. 

Selected Publications

‘The Conspiracy of Capital’ Plutocracy and Popular Radicalism in the Age of Monopoly.
University of Massachusetts Press, Published June 7, 2019. 

Select Reviews of The Conspiracy of Capital
Astra Taylor, “In Defense of Liberal Conspirators,” The New Republic, May 6, 2020.

R.C. Cottrell, “Editors Picks for December 2019: The Conspiracy of Capital,” American Library Association, December 12, 2019.

Timothy Messer-Kruse, (2020). “A Dialectic of Conspiracy,” Review of Michael Mark Cohen, The Conspiracy of Capital. The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era,19(1). 

Chad Pearson, Review of Michael Mark Cohen, The Conspiracy of Capital. The New England Quarterly 2020; 93 (1).

R. Todd Laugen, Review of Michael Mark Cohen, The Conspiracy of Capital.
The American Historical Review, Volume 126, Issue 1, March 2021.

Peer Reviewed Articles
“‘Thanks to Berkeley…’ Managing Multiculturalism in an Age of Austerity.” Co-authored with Leigh Raiford. Que Parle (Summer 2015). 

“Imagining Militarism: Art Young and The Masses Face the Enemy.” Radical History Review 106 (Winter 2010). 

“‘Cartooning Capitalism:’ Radical Cartooning and the Making of American Popular Radicalism in the Early Twentieth Century.”  International Review of Social History 52, (Winter 2007).

“The Ku Klux Government: Vigilantism, Lynching, and the Repression of the IWW.” Journal for the Study of Radicalism 1, No. 1 (Winter 2007).  

“Jim Crow’s Drug War: Race, Coca-Cola and the Southern Origins of Drug Prohibition.” Southern Cultures 12, No. 3 (Fall 2006). 

Commissioned Essays
“Teaching the Introduction to American Studies Course: A Dialogue.” Co-Authored with Grace Wang. Forum on Engaging Contradictions: Teaching and Pedagogy in American Studies, American Quarterly (June 2016). 

“Buzz Can Happen Here: Sinclair Lewis and the New American Fascism.” The New Ohio Review #20 (Summer 2016). 

“Cartoon.” Keywords for Comics Studies. Eds. Ramzi Fawaz, Shelley Streeby and Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. New York: New York University Press, 2021.

“Donald Trump and the Fall of Whiteness.” Huffington Post. Posted November 8, 2016.

“Cartooning capitalism – A Look Back at American Radicalism.” Red Pepper Magazine.
Posted November 2, 2016.

“Radical Art: Art Young and the Cartoons of American Socialism.” New Politics XV vol 4 (Winter 2016). 

“Doing the Jump Jim Crow for Halloween,” Editorial for The Independent UK, Posted October 31, 2014. 

“Black History Month and the Uses of the Past,” co-authored with Leigh Raiford. Al Jazeera English Opinion Page. Posted February 28, 2012.

“The Neoliberal Crisis and the Open University,” Invited blog entry on Social Text Blog. Posted December 14, 2010. 

On-Line Essays
“Douchebag: The White Racial Slur We’ve All Been Waiting For,” Gawker.com, Posted October 19, 2014. / Originally posted on October 12, 2014 at Medium.com.  
As of 2023 this essay has been viewed more that 2 million times. 

“The Whitest Man Who Ever Lived: Wernher von Braun and Peak Whiteness.” The Secret History of America, Medium.com, Posted March 23, April 1, May 1, 2016.

“All My Terrorists Are White: Counting the Days between Nazi and Neo,” In Human Parts. Posted December 23, 2014. / Reprinted on The Good Men Project, January 15, 2015.

Digital Humanities Projects 
Cartooning Capitalism: Art Young & the Cartoons of American Radicalism
An on-line archive of radical cartoons drawn by Art Young and other socialist and labor artists of the early twentieth century. Site went live on August 1, 2014 and is constantly maintained and updated.

The Secret History of America
A collective research and writing seminar in American Studies (2015-Present).
“Pandemic Elections Survival Edition,” Posted December 10, 2020.
Featured by UC Berkeley News 7/19/2016

Reviews and Published Interviews
“‘I Felt an Urgency That the Publishing Industry Did Not Share:’ Michael Mark Cohen and Cartooning Capitalism” The Comics Journal, March 22, 2021.

Review of Charlottesville 2017: The Legacy of Race and Inequity ed. by Louis P. Nelson, Claudrena N. Harold, and Summer of Hate: Charlottesville, USA, by Hawes Spencer. Journal of Southern History, vol. 85 no. 4, 2019.

“Education Should Be Free!” Review of Nancy Folbre’s Saving State URadical Teacher 88 (Summer 2010).  

“Q & A with Lecturer and Campus Organizer,” California Teacher, February / March 2010.

Select Television, Radio and Media Appearances
Democracy Now! Television and Radio interview, November 17, 2009.
“Why Are We Destroying Public Education? University of California Students and Staff Prepare for System-Wide Strike to Protest Cuts.” 

“Pynchon’s Paranoid California,” Arts & Design @Berkeley. March 1, 2017.

KQED Newsroom Interview “Free Speech Week Fight at UC Berkeley,” September 22, 2017

“Party in the USA: The Fight for Voting Rights,” Canadian Broadcasting Company, US Politics Podcast, aired March 3, 2021.  

“Art Against War and Capital,” Interchange, aired on WFHB Radio January 21, 2021.

“New Berkeley Course Examines 2020 Election Through the Lens of American Democracy,” Story by Ivan Natividad, Video production by Clare Major and Roxanne Makasdjian, posted October 27, 2021. 

“Author Interview with Michael Mark Cohen,” Out Front, aired on KPFA Radio, October 21, 2019.

“Images of the Horror of American Race Relations: Interview with Michael Mark Cohen,” Video Interview for Race: The Power of an Illusion, UC Berkeley, 2019.