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In the Wilderness

W.J.T. Mitchell, 8 April 1993

Culture and Imperialism 
by Edward Said.
Chatto, 444 pp., £20, February 1993, 0 7011 3808 4
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... The Foundation of Empire is Art and Science. Remove them or Degrade them and the Empire is no more. Empire follows Art and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose. William Blake, ‘Annotations to Reynolds’ Blake’s famous remark in the margins of Joshua Reynolds’s Discourses on Art has always mystified me. How could Blake, the fierce ‘prophet against empire’, name his own beloved vocation of ‘Art and Science’ as the foundation of empire? Blake promises that when ‘sweet Science reigns’ and the prophetic artist’s work is done, ‘Empire [will be] no more/And now the Lion & Wolf shall cease ...
... 1. We live in a golden age of criticism. The dominant mode of literary expression in the late 20th century is not poetry, fiction, drama, film, but criticism and theory. By ‘dominant’ I do not mean ‘most popular’ or ‘widely respected’ or ‘authoritative’, but ‘advanced’, ‘emergent’. 2. The golden age of criticism is mainly an academic phenomenon, centred in major research universities in the advanced industrial democracies ...

Culture Wars

W.J.T. Mitchell, 23 April 1992

... I am old enough to remember a time when going to the movies meant going to see the newsreels too. Perhaps that is why the juxtaposition of CNN and JFK makes so much sense to me. I’ve never been able to get over the idea that the news is just another kind of movie, and vice versa. But Cable News Network and JFK belong together in a historical proximity as well, as the framing media events of a very strange year in American cultural history ...

Mae West and the British Raj

Wendy Doniger: Dinosaur Icons, 18 February 1999

The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon 
by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 321 pp., £25, November 1998, 0 226 53204 6
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... burden to lay even on such a big animal, and requires some massive scholarly leverage; W.J.T. Mitchell invokes the secular trinity of Darwin, Marx and Freud. He traces the historical origin and development of our ideas about dinosaurs, through evolutionary theory and palaeontology (primarily Darwin and Cuvier), 19th and 20th-century history of ...

An Alternative Agenda

Ian Hamilton, 25 June 1987

... professors are a bore. Stuff him. We welcome too, From Critical Inquiry, our lone Yank: W.J.T. Mitchell seems at first Unsettlingly cheery. Underneath He’s ninety per cent Theory, One of us. While others idly prate Tom will ‘articulate’, post ’68. Which brings us to the ones We still most love to hate. Also imported from Abroad We have three Pom ...


Alexander Nehamas, 22 May 1986

Contest of Faculties: Philosophy and Theory after Deconstruction 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 247 pp., £16, November 1985, 0 416 39939 8
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Philosophical Profiles 
by Richard Bernstein.
Polity, 313 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7456 0226 6
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Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism 
edited by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 146 pp., £12.75, November 1985, 0 226 53226 7
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... responses to, and elaborations of, what they have to say. It has been put together by W.J.T. Mitchell, who edits Critical Inquiry, the journal in which all those pieces originally appeared, and who contributes a short but extraordinarily clear and incisive introduction. Depending on your sympathies, you will consider this volume to represent either the ...

Ravishing Atrocities

Patrick Maynard, 7 January 1988

Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane 
by Michael Fried.
Chicago, 215 pp., £23.95, April 1987, 0 226 26210 3
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Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology 
by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 226 pp., £7.25, October 1987, 0 226 53229 1
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... a writer – images of different kinds, which we would normally call pictorial and verbal. Mr Mitchell’s Iconology is an attempt to understand what we think such images are, which we take as basic, and why we do so. Possibly the glowing testimonials on the dust-jacket were composed before the manuscript was edited toward incoherence, for a book which ...

Space Wars

Fredric Jameson, 4 April 1996

The Invisible in Architecture 
edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van Toorn.
Academy, 516 pp., $115, February 1994, 1 85490 285 7
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The Classical Vernacular: Architectural Principles in an Age of Nihilism 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 158 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 1 85754 054 9
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... exceptions such as Hillis Miller’s remarkable Illustration or the pathbreaking work of W.J.T. Mitchell. One might, for example, imagine the counter-attack of the visual in terms of CD-ROM technology, where the image virtually erupts from the bureaucratised grid of a computer text, whose ceaseless mechanical succession seems to call into being over against ...

A Pie Every Night

Deborah Friedell: Schizophrenia in the Family, 18 February 2021

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family 
by Robert Kolker.
Quercus, 377 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 0 385 54376 7
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... healers and psychopharmacologists have failed to keep your child alive, there’s W.J.T. Mitchell’s Mental Traveller: A Father, a Son and a Journey through Schizophrenia, with its emphasis on journey, discovery, finding strength in what remains.* Mitchell is fond of quoting Leonard Cohen – ‘there is a crack ...

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