Visual Studies: Call for COVID-19 visual essays

Deadline for submissions December 15 2020

This is a call for visual essays focused on the global pandemic and its ongoing social, economic and emotional impact. 2020 has been a year of rapid adjustment internationally, as households around the world were instructed to ‘lockdown’ and to socially distance to reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. This call aims to bring together contemporary visual scholarship on the pandemic in a special section of Visual Studies to be published in 2021.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, the visual impact of the pandemic in terms of organisational sociology, and its effects on domestic activity spaces, family life, and work; intersectional aspects of people’s experience of the pandemic in terms of class, race, gender, geographical location, etc.; the politics of mask wearing; people’s adoption of, or resistance to, suggested public health measures; visual forms of communication adopted by government authorities; and the circulation of Covid-19 conspiracy memes; and any visual evidence of unexpected or surprising responses to the Pandemic, especially those that suggest lasting institutional change.

Visual essays should be primarily visual and should combine image and text in a coherent form. All visual essays are peer reviewed. Visual essays should:

  • contain no more than 10 images, which should be the primary focus and therefore should drive the narrative rather than being merely illustrative.
  • contextualize the images/project within the text, addressing the who, when, where, what and why of the project, and should also establish the scholarly/intellectual significance of the project.
  • be clearly and engagingly written.
  • need not include footnotes or references, unless they are required by the narrative intent of the project.

For further information, please see Visual Studies’ aims and scope and instructions to authors:

Visual Studies

or contact Susan Hansen (s.hansen@mdx.ac.uk).

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  •  

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

    James Reston

  •  

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

    Steve Harp

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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    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

  •  

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

    William S. Burroughs

  •  

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

    Bertolt Brecht

  • 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

  •  

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

    Pierre Bourdieu

  •  

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

    Lisa Kristine

  • 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

  •  

    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

  • 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

  •  

    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

  •  

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

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

  • 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

  • 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

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