W. J. T. Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. He served as Chair of the English Department from 1988 to 1991, and has been the editor of Critical Inquiry since 1978. He received his B.A. from Michigan State University in 1963, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1968. He taught in the English Department of Ohio State University from 1968-77 before moving to Chicago.
Professor Mitchell has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as research conference grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Exxon Educational Foundation. In the winter of 1993 he was awarded a research residency as the Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology. During his editorship, Critical Inquiry has thrice been recognized for the “Outstanding Special Issue of a Scholarly Journal” (1981, 1988, 1998) and for outstanding design (for its special issue, Art and the Public Sphere) by the Conference of Editors of Learned Journals. Critical Inquiry also won the American Publisher’s Association award for an outstanding special issue in 1998. Professor Mitchell chaired the planning committee for the Chicago Humanities Institute in 1991 (now the Franke Institute), and has served on the governing boards of the Smart Gallery of Art, the Highgate Art Trust, the Benton Fellowship Program, the Franke Institute, and the University of Chicago Press, where he has served as Chairman of Board. In 1996, his book Picture Theory was awarded the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey Prize for “an especially distinguished book in the history of art.” In 1997, Picture Theory received the Gordon E. Laing Prize for the book by a faculty author that has brought the most distinction to the University of Chicago Press. His most recent work, The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon (1998) was selected as one of the top 100 books of 1999 by the Toronto Globe & Mail. It was also nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and won the Award of Excellence and the Juror’s Choice for design at the 1998/99 Chicago Book Clinic Show. In the spring of 2002 he was awarded the Berlin Prize Fellowship to the American Academy in Berlin. In 2014 he received the College Art Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the teaching of art history, and in 2017 he was appointed a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.