Re-dress: Beyond and Between Visual Studies

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OCTOPUS: A Journal of Visual Studies
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Re-dress: Beyond and Between Visual Studies

For Visual Studies at UC Irvine, 2009 marks a year of looking back and looking forward:
to past achievements and new possibilities for a graduate student journal that has
produced four volumes of scholarship on, about, and influenced by the expansion of
visual studies in the past decade and a half.

The fifth volume begins a new phase of OCTOPUS. Like many others, the recent
meltdown of global and national financial markets-- and its specific and specifically
problematic effect on institutions of higher learning-- has forced us to reevaluate the
economics of a journal supported exclusively by grants and volunteer effort. The
expansion of digital media, and their capacity to entertain video and audio input, means
that it is time for us to shift away from a paper-based journal to one composed of bits
and bytes.

It is in the spirit, then, of change and renewal-- but also of seeing precisely where we
have been-- that we now seek to publish papers in volume five of OCTOPUS dealing
with the ways that visual studies has, since its first articulations nearly twenty years ago,
altered the way visual media are understood in relation to social, political, aesthetic, and
cultural production. In short, itʼs time to re-fashion our journal for the next decade; a
decade in which we anticipate change for our discipline: innovation that is founded on a
continued respect for our origins.

How have our historical models developed under the influence of a wide variety of
methods that share only, perhaps, their interest in vision and visuality? We might
conceive of visual studies as questions of form, vision, materiality, and object-status and
how they are linked to historical and theoretical disciplines including art history, film and
media studies, the study of vision in science and technology, and visual anthropology.
Our goal: to enable a critical appraisal of the work of seeing in an age of broad and
often invisible mediation, allowing us to think about the visible and invisible, the
sonorous and silent, as cultural and social processes. What, then, do our objects of
attention disclose about the past of our sight (or, our sited past), and its possible future?
Finally: to what extent do the artifacts left visible for our study enable a process of
historical analysis into the ways that subjects are made, destroyed, and remade along
axes of vision?

We ask these questions at a particularly potent discursive moment. After nearly twenty
years of debate, scholars have finally come to no conclusive set of principles from which
visual studies must derive its formal logic. We have also, it appears, worked against
delimiting a canon of discreet visual objects to which visual studies might look for
credibility and security and over which its analytical models reign.
We would like to see what Visual Studies looks like now. We look forward to
submissions that will address this topic in its wide-ranging iterations. Some brief
possibilities include:

Visual culture and visual studies in 2009, disciplinarity and the era, the ways in which
disciplines mark time
(Inter)Disciplinarity in the arts, historiography of visual studies, emergent disciplines, the
canonization (or lack thereof) of visual culture
Processes of review and redress, the position of looking forwards and backwards;
Janus myths, images, and cultural reincarnations, re-fashionings and re-use
Recession, the economies of images, the economics of the academy; the intersections
of recession mentality
Science, technology, and the shifting visual rhetoric and politics of digitalized
scholarship; digital publishing in the academy

The above are broad suggestions. We hope to receive submissions that work through
these topics, or the questions interspersed throughout, in a visual studies methodology.
Paper submissions of 1,250 and 2,500 words will be accepted beginning October 12th,
until December 4th, 2009. Please submit papers to At this
time articles will be sent to peer review. Authors whose papers we can publish will be
notified by January 11th. We look forward to reading your submissions and to sharing
the work of graduate students and junior faculty with a broad and engaged audience.