Darrin McMahon

Deconstructing Genius is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and intellectual historian Darrin McMahon, Dartmouth College. The word “genius” evokes great figures like Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Mozart but what quintessential quality unites these individuals? Can we measure it? Can we create it? This thoughtful conversation explores Darrin’s research on the evolution of genius from Plato to Einstein (which led him to write the book Divine Fury: A History of Genius) in an effort to illuminate what our evolving genius mythology reveals about the rest of us. 

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Something to Declare, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. Opening Up Sightlines – The genius of intellectual history
  2.  The Equality Paradox – Some more equal than others?
  3. Towards The Dark Side – The genius as rule-breaker
  4. Romantic Genius – Reinvented, suffering and zealous
  5. Nature vs. Nurture – A threat to equality?
  6. Evil Genius – The other side of the coin
  7. Geniuses Everywhere – The superhuman condition?
  8. The Future of Genius – Next steps
  9. Gradually Expanding – Genius as cultural phenomenon
  10.  The Science of Genius – Brainology and other tales

This book is now available in electronic format on:

This conversation is also available as part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow Collection called Conversations About The History of Ideas in both print and electronic format.

Read more


The video that we’ve created from this conversation is available on Vimeo On Demand, https://vimeo.com/ondemand/deconstructinggenius.