Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation

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University of Chicago Press, 1995 - Art - 445 pages
In "Iconology," W. J. T. Mitchell asked what images are, how they differ from words, and why these questions have been such a source of contention for centuries. In this companion volume to "Iconology," he extends his investigation to pictures--the concrete, representational objects in which images appear.

Although we have thousands of words about pictures, Mitchell notes that we do not yet have a satisfactory theory of them. What we have is a variety of disciplines--semiotics, philosophical inquiries into representation, new departures in art history, studies in mass media--that attempt to converge on the problem of pictorial representation and visual culture. Identifying the problems inherent in the attempt to master visual representation with verbal discourse, Mitchell proposes instead to "picture theory." He looks at the way pictures function in theories about culture, consciousness, and representation, and at theory itself as a form of picturing. What precisely, he asks, are pictures (and theories about pictures) doing "now," in the late twentieth century, when the power of the visual is said to be greater than ever before, and the "pictorial turn" supplants the "linguistic turn" in the study of culture?

Focusing on Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," Oliver Stone's "JFK," and television coverage of the Gulf War, he examines the capacity of visual images to awaken or stifle public debate, collective emotion, and political violence. An "applied iconology, " this book by one of America's leading theorists of visual representation offers an immensely rich and suggestive account of the interplay between the visible and the readable across the culture, from literature to visualart to the mass media.

 

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Picture theory: essays on verbal and visual representation

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Mitchell (English and art, Univ. of Chicago), who is editor of Critical Inquiry, addresses a variety of concerns about the nexus of word and depiction. In cogent, jargon-free prose, Mitchell by turn ... Read full review

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Contents

Introduction
1
Picture Theory
9
The Pictorial Turn
11
Metapictures
35
Beyond Comparison Picture Text and Method
81
Textual Pictures
107
Visible Language Blakes Art of Writing
109
Ekphrasis and the Other
149
Word Image and Object Wall Labels for Robert Morris
239
The Photographic Essay Four Case Studies
279
Pictures and Power
321
Illusion Looking at Animals Looking
327
Realism Irrealism and Ideology After Nelson Goodman
343
Pictures and the Pub Sphere
361
The Violence of Public Art Do the Right Thing
369
From CNN to JFK
395

Narrative Memory and Slavery
181
Pictorial Texts
207
Ut Pictura Theoria Abstract Painting and Language
211
Some Pictures of Representation
415
Index
425
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

W. J. T. Mitchellnbsp;is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago and editor of Critical Inquiry.

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