Thursday, September 17, 2009

Call for papers - The Cultural Visualization of Hurricane Katrina


This was posted early in August but came to us again, so we are re-posting. If you already submitted something, please be assured that all the info remains the same.




Invisible Culture: A Journal For Visual Culture

Deadline for Papers: October 15, 2009

Guest Editors: Nicola Mann and Victoria Pass, University of Rochester

The Cultural Visualization of Hurricane Katrina

Over the past four years, various forms of visual media have focused their
lenses on the swathes of watery land that make up the Mississippi delta. Since
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in summer of 2005, the region and its
residents have been subject to intense televisual, filmic, artistic, and
media-based scrutiny. From Geraldo Rivera’s tearful live reports from the
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, to Kanye West’s frustrated declaration at
the NBC Concert for Hurricane Relief that “George Bush doesn’t care about
black people,” to the widely acclaimed documentary film Trouble the Water
(2008), images of the hurricane, the people it affected (and continues to
affect), and the land it ravaged have been projected into our living rooms
through a series of visual representations.

Much of the scholarship on this topic has focused on socio-cultural issues
including rebuilding strategies, the failure of homeland security, and
testimonial accounts of “survivors” or “witnesses.” This issue aims to
analyze representations of Katrina and its aftermath using the methodologies of
visual and cultural studies. We are interested in the ways that analyses of the
politics of representation, as exemplified in the case of Katrina, opens up into
a discussion the evolution of visual and cultural studies in the last ten or
twenty years.

We seek papers that consider visual representations of Hurricane Katrina in a
ways unimaginable at earlier points in the intersection between visual studies
and cultural studies. From’s award winning “Voices from the Gulf
Coast” podcasts, to the various discussion blogs that have emerged in the wake
of the event, to Google Earth’s satellite imagery overlays of the devastation
in the affected region, to the television show “Extreme Makeover: Hurricane
Katrina Home Edition,” we have seen in Katrina’s aftermath a plethora of new
modes of visual diffusion. Furthermore, the intensification of mass media, both
in terms of the sheer quantity of media outlets and in the reach of its
dissemination, has given rise to a new experience of historical time and
geographic proximity, in which we experience historical events through media
representations almost immediately as they happen and regardless of where they

Additionally, the interactivity of new media has reoriented the
producer/consumer binary of traditional media. We are interested in the
representational politics of these new visual rhetorics and in the new and often
hybrid apparatuses through which we experience them. For example, a critical
alternative to the mainstream news media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina arose
across multiple platforms. When compared to more “traditional” documentary
forms of disaster representation such the Associated Press’ controversial
global dissemination of “looting” photographs, does the immediacy and
interactive nature of new media responses render their vision more absolute,
real, and perhaps most importantly, “true”?

Is the semiotic approach of, for example, Roland Barthes on photography—which
arose in relation to a very different mode of cultural production—still
relevant? Can the even earlier model of Frankfurt School-style ideology
critique help us to understand popular culture and its capacity for social
change? How might these now-familiar methodologies be refashioned for the
current culture? Or what methods have eclipsed them? One key concern of this
issue is whether technological shifts and advancements in the dissemination of
media over the past twenty years have changed the way we see beyond the
recognition of our interpretive paradigms. If the object of visual studies has
changed, how might we adapt the discipline to engage with the current mode(s) of
cultural production?

Accepted essays will accompany the transcript of an upcoming roundtable
discussion between the founders of the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural
Studies at the University of Rochester’s co-founders, on the occasion of the
program’s twentieth anniversary (Mieke Bal, Norman Bryson, Michael Ann Holly,
Kaja Silverman, Constance Penley, and Janet Wolff; moderated by Douglas Crimp).

Possible avenues for the exploration include, but are not limited to:

-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
- Trouble the Water (2008)
-When the Levees Broke (2008), Spike Lee
-Hellp, Darren Martinez

New Orleans Ladder
The Survival of New Orleans weblog
Nola blog

Televisual depictions of the hurricane and responses to it, for example:
-news coverage of “looting”
-Comic Relief (2006)
-House (May 16, 2006), FOX
-Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, “The Christmas Show,” (Dec. 4, 2006)
-The Daily Show

Artistic responses to Hurricane Katrina:
Prospect 1: New Orleans (international biennial)
News photographs
“Remembering Katrina,” the official Hurricane Katrina souvenir program.

Mainstream news journalism
Urban renewal efforts
Personal photographs

NOLA tourism
The disappearance of “authentic” indigenous NOLA culture
NOLA outside of Bourbon Street
Representations of local culture in New Orleans

Please send inquiries and completed papers (MLA style) of 2,500 – 5,000 words
to Nicola Mann (nmann2[at]mail[dot]rochester[dot]edu) and Victoria Pass
(vpass[at]mail[dot]rochester[dot]edu) by October 15, 2009.

In Visible Culture is also currently seeking submissions for book and exhibition
reviews (600-1000 words). To submit book or exhibition review proposals please
email ivcbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com. For a list of reviewable titles, see:

Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture is a peer-reviewed
journal dedicated to explorations of the material and political dimensions of
cultural practices: the means by which cultural objects and communities are
produced, the historical contexts in which they emerge, and the regimes of
knowledge or modes of social interaction to which they contribute.