“[Mitchell] undertakes to explore the nature of images by comparing them with words, or, more precisely, by looking at them from the viewpoint of verbal. “[Mitchell] undertakes to explore the nature of images by comparing them with words, or, more precisely, by looking at them from the viewpoint. INTRODUCTION In , W. J. T. Mitchell published his ‘ Iconology’, with a sequel – an ‘applied iconology’ – in ‘Picture theory’. His program is ambitious.

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W. J. T. Mitchell’s Iconology and Picture Theory

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The most lucid exposition of the subject I have ever read. Paperbackpages.

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Iconologyplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Oct 20, Carl rated it it was amazing Shelves: I’ve had a couple of mitchelp from this and Mitchell’s -Picture Theory- as some of the primary theoretical texts for my dissertation for a while now, but I’ve been totally lame and haven’t read through any significant amount of his work since then– until lately, now that I’ve picked up this book and Pic Theory and have been working my way through every icobology.

Mitchell engages primarily in ideology-critique of interart discourse from Romanticism on through contemporary criticism and philosophy with some brief glances back at the Greeks, since they started everything anyway. Through close readings of texts on the relationships of the arts he demonstrates that the authors in question are often less concerned with understanding the nature and relationship of the various arts than with policing the boundaries between the arts and, by extension, the other oppositions with which the “visual vs verbal” is conflated male vs female, voiced vs silent, see-er vs seen, even England vs France!!

The way in which he exposes and deconstructs the oppositions set up in Lessing’s Laocoon in this book, and in works like Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn in -Picture Theory- are what initially got me interested in applying this approach to the Norse mythological poems I’m working on, since binary oppositions are a staple of myth-criticism. Of course, we have no theoretical discourse from the time on the relationships between the arts though I’m keeping my eye open for medieval theory on that sort of thing which might have been available in medieval Iceland!


Let me know if you have anythingso I’m having to be miitchell so I don’t go overboard it can be easy to see a concern for Interart discourse which isn’t really there — but I think it’s worked out very well into an investigation of the cultural semantics of the ekphrastic performance.

But that’s just the first half of the dissertation. In one of the first chapters Mitchell discusses Nelson Goodman’s work on the iconlogy between verbal signs and visual icons.

Although Mitchell does put Goodman through some of the ideological critique that he will subject the others to, he seems very optimistic about Goodman’s distinction between verbal signs as articulate and differentiated what we expect since Saussere and visual “signs” as undifferentiated and “dense”– of course, this was written inand Mitchell has written on Goodman since then, so I’m interested to hear whether he still likes this division.

It’s the best I’ve run across, and leaves room for “leakage” across the ideological boundary between the two. I tend to lump verbal and visual together as all part of a Lacanian Symbolic Order, though I’m still enough of a baby in lacanian thought that I might have it totally wrong.

In my field paper, where I develop the ekphrastic performance idea which I mentioned above, I tried describing the line itself ie, the sort of line you draw with as a manifestation of the Real, or of the Gap which is the “difference”, the boundary between semiotic units.

Though I think at some point I need iconologt fall back and admit that embodied experience does some of the work as well I’ve ignored that a bit lately as I’ve tried to get a grasp on the linguistic turn, but now that we seem to be going through a “pictorial turn” as Mitchell suggests in Pic TheoryI should probably get back to Merleu-Ponty and Heidegger and Dreyfus.

Dec iconologj, Janin rated it really liked it. A good resource into the study of icons and iconography.

‘W. J. T. Mitchell and the image’. Review of ‘Iconology’ and ‘Picture theory’ by Stefan Beyst

Oct 02, Charlie rated it really liked it. A little technically advanced for general readers, W.

Mitchell’s now-classic discussion of the image moves from early distinctions between the verbal and visual image, looks at how philosophers since Wittgenstein have tried to break through that classic distinction and then moves to how iconology is related to ideology. Unless you have a familiarity with Wittgenstein and Heidegger and Marx, this book is going to be a cipher. Jan 29, Noah rated it liked it Shelves: Other than the last chapter– a somewhat tedious but in-depth section concerned with the role of iconoclasm and ideology in Marxist thought– this was a lucid work on images.


Manages to clearly demonstrate the subtleties of iconological thought and its often-close association with language and other non-image forms.

Jan 20, Jessica Zu rated it liked it Shelves: This book led me to Hans Belting’s books and articles on similar subjects that are more useful, a new Iconography that draw a link between image and media and reintroduce the body by asking how images work on us.

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Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology

Editor of the journal Critical Inquiry. His monographs, Iconology and Picture Theoryfocus on media theory and visual culture. He draws on ideas iconplogy Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx to demonstrate that, essentially, we must consider pictures to be living things. His collection of essays What Do Pictures Want?

In a recent podcast interview Mitchell traces his interest in visual culture to early work on William Blake, and his then burgeoning interest in developing a science of images.

In that same interview he discusses his ongoing efforts to rethink visual culture as a form of life and in light of digital media. No trivia or quizzes yet. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.