Saturday, March 12, 2011

CFP: The American ImageText (UK) (March 31; June 18-19)

University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, June 18-19, 2011
Deadline: Mar 31, 2011

Extended call for papers:
The American Imagetext

'To fasten words again to visible things':
the American imagetext
A two day conference held by the American Studies department at the University of East Anglia

Keynote speakers:
WJT Mitchell:
'The Historical Uncanny: Phantoms, Doubles, and Repetition in the War on Terror'

Miles Orvell:
'The Talking Picture: Speech, Silence, and Ventriloquism in the Discourse of Photography'

When Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that 'America is a poem in our eyes', he was partly expressing the transcendental belief that words and images share a unique and 'radical correspondence' that might enable the poet 'to fasten words again to visible things.' Walt Whitman answered Emerson's call for such a poet, cementing the special relationship that still exists in America between the written word and visual image.

The burgeoning discipline of visual studies is perfectly placed to take the exploration of this relationship in new directions. However, there is at present a tendency in such studies to neglect the roots of language in pictures, and to overlook the importance of visual/textual relations to the expression of American character, culture and identity. Whilst the growth of visual studies is an exciting development, 'visual literacy' remains a nebulous and confusing term, and as a field of academic study, tends not to generate readings outside a tried and trusted sociological and ideological framework. There is a pressing need for scholarship in image - text relations to be made more various, more theoretically adventurous and more culturally and historically penetrating, and for scholarship to place the study of contiguous images and texts in a much deeper cultural history of visual/verbal responses to film and theatre, to landscape and the built environment, to the visual and plastic arts, to contemporary considerations of mixed media texts, illustrated texts, illuminated manuscripts, and more.

This conference invites speakers to consider the product and practice of the interrelations of image and word across disciplines, and in a specifically American context. We encourage a theoretical approach that considers, for example, any aspect of science, historiography, theology, iconology, art history, multicultural and transnational study, film and media studies, poetry scholarship, cognitive psychology.

Please send a one-page abstract for a 20-minute paper that may address, but not be restricted to, any of the following:
  • Naming and captioning
  • Reading the visual and verbal
  • The photographic essay or book
  • Graphic design; the graphic novel
  • Lettrism, Hypertexts - fiction and poetry, concrete poetry
  • Environments and spaces of reception and display- eg the gallery, the museum, the classroom, the church, the home
  • Ekphrasis
  • Philosophy
  • Anthropology and archaeology
  • Literary use of the physical or imagined image
  • The use of verbal signs in the visual arts
  • Verbal and visual ontology
  • Illustrated texts - fiction or non-fiction
  • Illuminated manuscripts
  • Artists' notebooks / scrapbooks
  • Performance and installation art
  • Iconography and iconology involving word and image
  • Image and text in digital media
  • Image and text in the visual arts, including theatre, film, photography and television
  • The manifesto as imagetext
  • Newspapers and broadsides
  • Street art and graffiti
Please send abstracts to Dr Catherine Gander and Dr Sarah Garland at by March 31st 2011.

Panel suggestions are also welcome. Conference participants may be encouraged to expand and revise their papers for submission to an edited collection of essays.

Registration forms are now available at

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