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Mitchell, W. J. T.

JONATHAN HENSHER


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405183123.2011.x


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W. J. T. Mitchell (b. 1942) is a scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature and is Gaylord Donnelly Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. He is also editor of Critical Enquiry . His extremely wide-ranging output examines the relations between text and image across the frontiers of era and genre, from illuminated manuscripts to Jurassic Park . Firmly poststructuralist in his approach, Mitchell consistently seeks to question the definitions and boundaries of the verbal and the visual, rather than formulating any monolithic theory of textuality and visuality. Having begun his career as a scholar of English literature and romanticism, Mitchell's work on the illustrated poems of William Blake led him to engage more generally with issues of the relation between verbal and visual representation. In Iconology ( 1986 ), certainly his most programmatic work, Mitchell examines the work of four theorists of verbalvisual relations: semiotician Nelson Goodman, art historian Ernst Gombrich, and the eighteenth-century aesthetic and political theorists Gotthold Lessing and Edmund Burke. He then analyzes the role of visual images and technologies in the writings of political philosopher Karl Marx. By historicizing the field of discourse on the verbalvisual divide in this way, he problematizes such engrained categories as the distinctions ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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