W. J. T. Mitchell is editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. A scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature, Mitchell is associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). He is known especially for his work on the relations of visual and verbal representations in the context of social and political issues.

He is editor of the interdisciplinary journal Critical Inquiry, which, under his editorship, has published special issues on public art, psychoanalysis, pluralism, feminism, the sociology of literature, canons, race and identity, narrative, the politics of interpretation, postcolonial theory, among other topics.

Mitchell has twice served as a Professor at the School of Criticism and Theory (Northwestern, 1983; Dartmouth, 1990), and he has lectured at universities and art museums throughout the United States, as well as in Europe and the Far East. Special teaching assignments include a Mellon Faculty Seminar at Tulane University, a seminar on Romanticism at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China, an NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers at the University of Chicago, a post as Canterbury Visiting Fellow at Canterbury University, New Zealand, a visiting professorship at the Institute for Art History, Aarhus, Denmark, and two visiting professorships at the Institute for Fine Arts and English Department at New York University in 1998 and 2000.

His recent publications include Image Science: Iconography, Visual Culture, and Media Aesthetics(Chicago, 2015); Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience, co-authored with Michael Taussig and Bernard Harcourt (2013), Seeing Through Race (2012), Cloning Terror: The War of Images, September 11 to Abu Ghraib (2011), Critical Terms in Media Studies, co-authored with Mark Hansen (2010) and What Do Pictures Want? (2005).

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Modern Language Association's 2006 James Russell Lowell Prize in Language and Literature, the University of Chicago’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching (2003), the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Morey Prize in art history given by the College Art Association of America (1996) and was a research fellow at the Clark Institute for Art History (2008).