Prof. W. J. T. Mitchell

Honorary member of the ZfL, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor for English and Art History at the University of Chicago (USA)


W. J. T. Mitchell studied English at Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University Baltimore and received his PhD in 1968. From 1968 to 1977, he taught at Ohio State University’s English department. He has been Professor for English and Art History at the University of Chicago since 1977 and an editor at Critical Inquiry since 1978. In 2008, he became an Honorary Member of the ZfL.

Mitchell made very influential contributions to the scholarship on the essence and function of images. Today, his monographs Iconology (1986) and Picture Theory (1994) are considered standard works in the field of image studies. His research engages with Erwin Panofsky’s thinking as it investigates the ways in which seeing and speaking interact. In 1992, he introduced the idea of a “pictorial turn” in response to increased attention to how people think in images—in scientific, cultural, and social contexts.


Events with W. J. T. Mitchell at the ZfL


Monographs (Selection)

Articles (ZfL)

  • Idolatrie: Nietzsche, Blake und Poussin, in: Trajekte. Zeitschrift des Zentrums für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin 21 (2010), 20–29 (transl. by Dirk Naguschewski)

Interview with W. J. T. Mitchell on image theory and visual culture (Nov. 2007)


Photo: © Amélie Losier