The University of Chicago Magazine

August 1997

Picture Theory wins Press prize

The University of Chicago Press presentedits annual Laing Award to W. J. T. Mitchell, the Gaylord Donnelley distinguishedservice professor in English, for his book Picture Theory: Essays on Verbaland Visual Representation.

The award is given annually to the Chicago facultyauthor, editor, or translator of the book published during the precedingthree years which adds the greatest distinction to the Press.

"I am thrilled, surprised, and incredibly pleased,"Mitchell said, although it's not the first prize the book has won. Lastyear, Picture Theory took the College Art Association's Charles Rufus MoreyBook Award for the most distinguished book in art history, making Mitchellthe first scholar outside the art-history field to receive the prize.

Picture Theory studies the interplay between the verbaland visual across culture, from literature to visual art to mass media.Mitchell analyzes classic theoretical texts, including Pliny on ancientart and Foucault on the relations between images and texts, and an arrayof cultural representations, including Oliver Stone's movie J.F.K., ToniMorrison's novel Beloved, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the Broadway musicalSunset Boulevard.

Mitchell's eclectic interests carry over on his newwork-in-progress, The Last Dinosaur Book. Also to be published by the Universityof Chicago Press, the new book will examine why dinosaurs have become asymbol of the United States' drive toward nationalism and modernity. Mitchellhas authored two other books and edits the journal Critical Inquiry.

--Tim Andrew Obermiller

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