CFP: Image & Text (edition #34): Visual rhetoric and rhetorics of the visual


Image & Text (ISSN: 1020 1497, accreditation 1997)is dedicating a special themed edition, aimed for publication in 2020, to articles that draw attention to rhetorical aspects of visual culture. These rhetorical facets may include the communicative strategies utilised towards making visual products persuasive but also the verbal rhetorical arguments that accompany the creation, promotion or evaluation of the visual.

While rhetoric is traditionally situated within the realms of political and legal argumentation, ‘rhetoric’ is to be found in any arena where communication goals are present. Insofar as a tremendous amount of communication takes place visually, the study of non-verbal and visual rhetoric is a growing area of enquiry. To consider the ‘rhetoric’ of a visual cultural product is to ask what makes the visual text engage or communicate effectively. Visual texts, as ‘rhetorical arguments’ draw our attention by persuading us of their relevance, they convince us of their quality through an ‘eloquence’ of form, and they project an ethos of credibility or authority by exploiting powerful visual conventions. To be rhetorically persuasive, then, can mean to stand out (to draw and maintain attention), but also to become ‘invisible’ (and therefore appear as natural or ‘objective’).

In addition to contributing to the growing area of research on visual rhetoric, this special edition seeks to re-emphasise the importance of rhetorical criticism towards understanding the discursive aspects of visual culture. Visual texts do not operate in isolation. The production and reception of the visual are highly influenced by discursive communities and practices. Verbal utterances of curators and critics, as well as the creators themselves, are thus powerful rhetorical products worthy of further examination. To consider ‘rhetorics of the visual’ is then to interrogate how and why the visual is spoken about in particular ways. In other words, a rhetorical perspective allows one to question the discourses of individuals or communities in terms of how these discourses are used in the description, justification, rationalisation and evaluation of visual practices.

We are therefore looking for original contributions from researchers working on any aspect of “visual rhetoric/rhetorics of the visual”. Contributors are invited to focus on issues/questions such as:

•        Visual rhetorical strategies or tactics as embodied in visual cultural, art and design products

•        Visual rhetoric of both image and text (as used separately or combined)

•        The application of theories of rhetoric towards interpreting the visual

•        The identification and analysis of rhetorical tropes or communicative conventions (as found in particular visual cultural contexts, genres, geographic locations or historical periods)

•        Comparative rhetorical analyses across contexts, genres, media, etc.

•        Rhetorical theory and interpretation towards socio-cultural critique  

•        Problematic or ethically questionable instances of rhetorical argumentation through / surrounding the visual

Please send an extended abstract (of between 300 – 500 words maximum, excluding sources) outlining your article idea by 30 September to the Guest Themed Issue Editor, Dr Anneli Bowie (, providing the following information:

•        topic and outline of article

•        form the proposed article will take (e.g., exploratory, theoretical)

•        unique research contribution that article aims to make.

Authors will be informed of the outcome of the selection process by 30 November 2019.

Authors of abstracts selected for inclusion will be invited to submit a full article of approximately 5 000 – 7 000 words in length (including references) by no later than 30 March 2020. All full article submissions must be formatted according to the Image & Text style guide, available at:

Note: All full submissions will undergo a double-blind review and there is no guarantee of acceptance of the final article prior to the completion of the review process.