Visual Studies – Embarking on a New Era

Fellow Visualistas,

I hope this message finds you doing as well as possible in this age of proximity distancing, pervasive uncertainty, and social reorganization. I don’t know about you, but in these emotionally taxing times, I’m particularly happy to be the sender or recipient of comparatively good news (or, to be honest, any news that isn’t about COVID-19).

And so it’s my great pleasure to announce the wonderful and exciting news that our esteemed interdisciplinary journal, Visual Studies, has a whole new editorial team in place!!!!

As many of you already know, earlier this year our former Editor-in-Chief, Tim Shortell, was regrettably forced to resign the position due to personal reasons. Following his resignation, we developed a bold new plan for completely reorganizing and staffing the journal. Rather than having a single Chief Editor, our vision was to recruit and hire a diverse and dynamic team of Editors to collaborate, consult and work as a highly effective and democratically organized operation.

Last week we actualized the new vision for Visual Studies by finalizing the staffing arrangement and holding our first-ever meeting in the new era. Our editorial team, which is organized non-hierarchically, now consists of the following scholars:
Derek Conrad Murray, Co-Editor
Gary Bratchford, Co-Editor
Julie Patarin-Jossec, Specialist Editor: Special Issues and Book Reviews
John Grady, Specialist Editor: Film/Video and Multimedia
Susan Hansen, Specialist Editor: Visual Essays and Images

Please join me in congratulating these scholars on becoming members of the newly reconfigured editorial team for Visual Studies!

In the interval between Tim’s resignation and last week’s inauguration of the new team, longtime IVSA member and Visual Studies multimedia editor John Grady very capably served as the interim Editor-in-Chief. John kept the journal running and made great strides in implementing a number of efficiency measures to improve the journal’s capacity and operations. For this herculean effort, we all owe John a debt of gratitude. Thank you, John!

I also want to give a big thanks to the members of the Visual Studies subcommittee of the IVSA Board. On a very short timeline they carefully reviewed all of the incoming applications and advised on difficult organizational restructuring and staffing decisions.

A final word of special thanks goes to all of the wonderfully talented scholars who applied but ultimately were not selected for a position on the editorial team. The final decisions were very difficult indeed, and we hope that all of you will accept our warm invitation to get involved with VS in other ways.
Thank you all for your continued involvement in and support of IVSA. All of us at IVSA and Visual Studies wish you peace, health, and love. Please contact me directly ( if you have questions or if we can do anything for you.

Greg Scott
IVSA President


  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris


    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman


    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine


    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas


    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie

  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker


    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston


    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser


    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp


    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple


    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff


    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog


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