CfP: Tagung, Panel des 14. Kongresses der DGS

14. Internationaler Kongress der Deutsche Gesellschaft für Semiotik (DGS) an der Universität Tübingen, 23. bis 27. September 2014

Panel: The Semiotics of Visual Literacy. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Writing and Iconicity

Deadline: 31. März 2014

Visual literacy is notoriously hard to define. In a narrow sense, it is often conceived as the competence to understand („read“) different kinds of images. In this context, the main question is whether the term „visual literacy“ is a useful or rather a misleading metaphor. The term „visual literacy“ in this sense inherits each and every of the enormous problems posed by the traditional dichotomy of the verbal and the pictorial.

But this dichotomy itself has become more and more problematic: Differenttypes of representations „between“ writing and image, such as diagrams, have become the focus of recent work in semiotics (Stjernfelt) and picture theory (Elkins), and the „mixed“ nature of all visual representations (Mitchell) as well as the visual and iconic aspects of writing (Krämer) have been recognized. Seen against the background of these developments, „visual literacy“ in a wider sense could be defined as the ability to understand visual representations in general.

This raises a number of interesting systematic and conceptual problems aswell as a number of practical questions, e.g.:

– Do all kinds of images require the same kind of literacy? Do all kinds of writing systems?
– How can semiotics contribute to a definition of visual literacy?
– Where are the limits of specific practices of understanding? To what extent do different media require different practices of understanding and different cognitive strategies?
– How and at what level should these be reflected in the curricula of schools and universities?

The section welcomes contributions to these and related questions on the notion of „visual literacy“ from the perspective of semiotics, media theory, image/visual studies, linguistics, psychology or didactics. Interested contributors are requested to submit a short abstract (400 word at the max.) to the heads of the section via email (see contact info below) until the end of March 2014.

Keynote: Prof. Dominic Lopes (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)


Dr. Elisabeth Birk
Technische Universität Chemnitz
Institut für Germanistik und Kommunikation
Germanistische Sprachwissenschaft
Thüringer Weg 11, 09107 Chemnitz

Dr. Mark Halawa
Freie Universität Berlin
Internationales Graduiertenkolleg „InterArt“
Grunewaldstr. 34
12165 Berlin

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