The 2006 Gordon J. Laing Prize
At its award ceremony on Monday, April 30, the University of Chicago Press awarded the 2006 Gordon J. Laing Prize to W. J. T. Mitchell, the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History, for his book What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images.
Awarded annually since 1963 by the Press, the Laing Prize is given to the Chicago faculty author, editor, or translator whose book has brought the greatest distinction to the Press’s list.
In What Do Pictures Want? Mitchell explores the idea that images are not just inert objects that convey meaning but animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands, and drives of their own. The book highlights Mitchell’s innovative and profoundly influential thinking on picture theory and the lives and loves of images. Ranging across the visual arts, literature, and mass media, Mitchell applies characteristically brilliant and wry analyses to Byzantine icons and cyberpunk films, racial stereotypes and public monuments, ancient idols and modern clones, offensive images and found objects, American photography and aboriginal painting.
Mitchell becomes only the third faculty member to win the Laing Prize twice; he also won the 1996 prize for Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation.
What Do Pictures Want? was also the co-winner of the 2006 James Russell Lowell Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association.