Thursday, March 19, 2015

UPDATE: 19 MAR 2014

On Monday, 30 March (i.e. the first day after Spring Break), your third response essay will be due. The guidelines for this essay are the same as the previous two response essays--the only difference being the chapters from which you will choose your quotation. I've provided the assignment guidelines below for your reference:

For this paper, you will select a single passage from chapters seven, eight, or nine that you found compelling.

Once you select a quote, you will need to a) explain in your own words what Mitchell means, b) articulate why you think it is interesting, c) address the implications and outcomes of this quote on text/image hybrids, and d) raise a series of critical questions that stem from the quotation and could be used to pursue a more expansive line of research.

You paper will be two full pages (not one and half, etc), using one-inch margins. Your font must be 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman. In the top, right-hand corner you will type your name (no other identify information is necessary). You will also need an illustrative/relevant title. The response should be free of grammatical and typographical errors.

I would also suggest that you take, at very at least, a cursory look at the guidelines for proper source integration at Purdue University's OWL site. Improper citation methods and formatting will result in a lower overall score on your response.

Additionally, I would also like to provide you with the Annotated Bibliography guidelines, which will be due in approximately one month.


In order to compose your final research essay in an effective manner, you will need to conduct considerable, academic research (i.e. not using Google or Wikipedia, etc). To document this process, you’ll need to create an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography consists of a list of MLA-style citations for books, articles, websites, etc. Each citation is followed by a paragraph-long description and evaluation of the source.

Before you begin writing your annotated bibliography, you will need to narrow down your research topic. A good annotated bibliography includes only those sources that directly relate to your narrowed, focused research question. To this extent, you want to ask yourself: What specific questions do I have about my topic that I would like to answer through research? Any one of those questions would likely be a suitable research topic.

Once you have decided on a focused research question, you may begin collecting sources for your annotated bibliography. The bibliography itself will consist of 8 secondary sources (this should not include Mitchell's Picture Theory), which are listed below by type (along with the rules to follow). I’ve listed acceptable sources below:

Books: this includes anthologies, but not books printed solely on the Internet (i.e. if the book is online, it must have appeared in print first).

Essays/Articles: from journals, magazines or newspapers: You should find these in databases, and if there is a link to full text, that’s okay. Otherwise, use Inter-Library Loan or get them out at our library.

As mentioned previously, each source in an annotated bibliography requires the following material:

First, describe or summarize the main points made in the book or article. You should discuss the central theme of the source, the thesis, major sub-points, and salient examples. To this end, I’d like to see you articulate the book or essay’s thesis, as well as outlining the source's main points. Please include relevant quotes when possible.

Second, you will need to evaluate the source. Your evaluation should include why the source and the author are credible, how the source is relevant to your narrowed research question, and how you evaluate the source. I’m looking for specific citations/ideas from your source and how those citation/ideas connect directly to your upcoming projects. Do not create vague or overly generalized relationships that do not demonstrate an understanding of the text and why you’ve chosen it.

This aspect of your assignment should be 7-9 pages in length, double-spaced and typed in 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Each of the sources must be formatted to MLA specifications.

For more information on, please consult OWL’s guidelines for the Annotated Bibliography.

Below I've include an annotation I wrote for Mitchell's Picture Theory several years ago. I don't expect your entries to be this long; I offer this sample simply as an example of the rigor with which I expect you to engage your sources:

Mitchell, W.J.T. Picture Theory. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1994.

In the introduction to Picture Theory, Mitchell states that his book “investigates the interactions of visual and verbal representation in a variety of media, principally literature and the visual arts”; but more than merely describing these “interactions,” the author wishes “to trace their linkages to issues of power, value, and human interest” (5). Of course, he immediately complicates this notion of a verbal-visual binary with the claim that “all media are mixed media, and all representations are heterogeneous; there are no 'purely' visual or verbal arts” (5). To a certain extent, this is both the rhetorical and formal structure of the book writ large: a continual series of dialectical negations, “not in the Hegelian sense of achieving a stable synthesis, but in...Adorno's sense of working through contradiction interminably” (418).

Mitchell divides Picture Theory into five sections, and he subdivides each section into chapters. Section I, titled “Picture Theory,” begins by laying out the historical and critical foundations of what the author calls the “Pictorial Turn.” This turn, like the linguistic and ethical turns preceding it, stems “from a point of peculiar friction and discomfort across a broad range of intellectual inquiry” (13); but far from replicating traditional lines of inquiry, such as mimetic and correspondence theory promoted within art history/theory, the pictorial turn is “a postlinguistic, postsemiotic rediscovery of the picture as a complex interplay between visuality, apparatus, institutions, discourse, bodies, and figurality” (16). Likewise, the problematics inherent to “spectatorship,” as well as the expansive historical and cultural networks enveloping a particular representation, must also be considered (16). Mitchell's next point of departure is metapictures and their ability to “provide their own metalanguage,” wherein these images “might be capable of reflection on themselves, capable of providing second-order discourse” (38). In the final subsection of “Picture Theory,” the author engages the term “imagetext” and discusses the “infinite” and “unstable dialectic that constantly shifts its location in representational practices” (83) when dealing with image and text composites. To wit, Mitchell presents readers with the theoretical underpinnings of his argument that are not predicated upon simple binaries, but upon a “whole ensemble of relations between media, [wherein] relations can be many other things besides similarity, resemblance, and analogy” (89). Furthermore, these “relations” are “open” so as to preserve the “radical incommensurability” (90) between “media” elements. While few firm conclusions are established, the author makes clear that he intends to “decenter...the purist's image of media” (97).

The second major section of Picture Theory, “Texutal Pictures,” offers close readings of literary texts that incorporate, in one manner or another, images. The opening subsection explores Blake's illuminated texts, followed by an examination of ekphrastic poetry (which he further parses out into “indifference,” “hope,” and “fear”) (152-4), and, finally, the manner in which narratives (specifically slave narratives) are disrupted by moments of description (i.e. imagism). Section III, “Pictorial Texts,” intends to be the chiasmic reversal of the previous section, in that Mitchell presents three subsections that demonstrate how language enters the visual zone; to do so, he first analyzes abstract art and how its desire to extricate language (i.e. narrative) from works actually generated an extensive scaffolding of theoretical language to support it, then the minimalist-period of Robert Morris' career, and concludes with and extended look at the sub-genre of photographic essays that, more often than not, fosters “a the text-photo relation” (287).

“Pictures and Power,” which is the title of Section IV, returns to a more theoretical plane, working through the dialectics of illusion(ism) and (ir)realism. To this extent, Mitchell expands the dialectical model of illusion-realism into (illusion-illusionism)-(realism-irrealism), and thus creates a multivalent approach that introduces an ever widening discourse fraught with complexities. Moreover, the author invokes Foucault's conception of power and the imagetext's complicity with those power relations (324). Picture Theory's final section, “Pictures and the Public Sphere,” further extends the notion of imagetexts and power, but contrasts Foucault's concept with that of Habermas' concept of the public sphere as an “ideological template” that promotes “uncoerced reason and free discussion” (363). While much of this section focuses on Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and Oliver Stone's JFK, Mitchell provides a thorough and incisive study of “public art” and the manner in which it not only collapses “the distinction between symbolic and actual violence,” but necessarily induces violence (374-5). The book closes with a brief conclusion in which Mitchell glosses the questions: What lies outside of representation? Why are we so anxious with regard to representation? and What is our responsibility with/to/for representation?

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