W. J. T. Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, where he has been editor of Critical Inquiry for the last 25 years. His scholarly work ranges across new and old media as well as ancient and modern forms of visual culture, focussing on the relation of verbal and visual representation, the circulation and effect of images, and the political-ethical significance of cultural forms. His books include Blake's Composite Art (1977), Iconology (1987), Picture Theory (1994), and The Last Dinosaur Book (1998). He has also edited numerous collections of essays on special topics, including Landscape and Power (1990; second edition 2002); Art and the Public Sphere (1993); The Language of Images (1980), On Narrative (1981), The Politics of Interpretation (1983), and Against Theory (1985). Under his editorship, Critical Inquiry has won numerous awards for special issues on such topics as Intimacy, Questions of Evidence, Canons, Writing and Sexual Difference, and Identities.
Mitchell is currently at work on a trio of books that will round out the project inaugurated in Iconology and the prize-winning Picture Theory. The first stage of this project will be a book entitled What Do Pictures Want? exploring the irresistible temptation to think of images as organisms or desiring machines. The second stage will be Addressing Media, a book on old and new media regarded as "habitats" or ecosystems in which images are born, thrive, and expire. The third stage will be Totemism, Fetishism, Idolatry, a study of the "surplus valuation" of images by what are commonly referred to as other peopleprimitives, children, women, minorities, the masses, neurotics, etc. Drawing from religion, anthropology, and the philosophical tradition of "critique as iconoclasm," this book will examine the role of secondary beliefs (beliefs about other people's beliefs about images) in the production of imaginary, symbolic, and real forms of violence.
Roderick Coover, University of Chicago
Johanna Drucker, University of Virginia
Faye Ginsburg, New York University
Steve Jones, University of Illinois-Chicago
W.J.T. Mitchell, University of Chicago