Call For Papers

The Question of Visual Communication and Writing in the Americas.

Call for Papers: Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas, Volume XV, Fall 2023. Send completed materials to . Deadline: May 31st, 2023.

Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas is an annual publication produced by graduate students affiliated with the Department of Art at the University of New Mexico.

Among various Indigenous communities in North, South, and Central America, there are long, sometimes, ancient traditions of graphic communication that convey information through the use of representational imagery, codified signs, operational notation, semasiography, and glyphic writing. While some societies, such as the Maya, utilized a glyphic writing system in which information is communicated through logographic and phonetic signs, many others developed a visual communication system that had the potential to communicate beyond spoken language. Despite the increase in scholarship on visual communication over the past fifty years, American semasiographic and other pictorial communication systems remain underexamined in the field of art history.

Scholars who study visual culture in the Americas have applied semiotic theory to their research since the middle of the twentieth century. For example, in 1967, George Kubler discussed the iconography at Teotihuacan as consisting of codified signs suggesting that they functioned similarly to written language, even going as far as likening signs to nouns and adjectives. More recently, Elizabeth Boone has combined the iconographic method with studies on semiotics and writing, arguing that Aztec and Mixtec record-keeping methods utilize a semasiographic system that combines pictorial and conventionalized signs rather than through a glottographic system, which replicates speech. Boone advocates for an inclusive definition of writing that includes semasiographic systems common throughout the Americas. Since the publication of Boone and Walter D. Mignolo’s edited volume, Writing Without Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and The Andes (1994), scholars have continued to utilize their approach thereby expanding what we know about the communicative function of certain Indigenous artforms from the Americas.

Examples of Indigenous visual communication would include such things as, Moche ceramics, Maya sculpture, Mixtec manuscripts and maps, Native American hide painting and ledger art, and Inka khipus. In the colonial period, Indigenous forms of graphic and material communication gave way to European forms of writing and painting although we also see continuities in native forms of expression. From the nineteenth-century through the present, modern and contemporary artists, such as Sandy Rodriguez, Joaquín Torres-González, and Cecilia Vicuña have emulated and drawn inspiration from indigenous communication traditions. Rodriguez, for example, creates contemporary codices that draw on the imagery and techniques used in Pre-Contact and Colonial manuscripts and maps. Likewise, Vicuña creates fiber works that explore the material form of the khipu, as well as their metaphoric potential.

For volume XV of Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas, we welcome submissions that focus on visual and material communication in the Americas from the ancient, Indigenous pre-contact period through European conquest and colonization and up to the present. Advanced graduate students enrolled in degree-granting institutions in the U.S. and abroad are invited to submit papers that examine Indigenous visual communication systems transhistorically and from a range of perspectives, including studies of later artists who emulate these forms of communication in their work.

Guidelines for Submission:

➢Only completed works by graduate students currently enrolled in academic programs in and outside of the U.S. will be considered

➢Submission formats include, essays (20–30 pages in length), book, exhibition, or performance reviews (5–10 pages in length), or interviews (5–10 pages in length)

➢Submissions in English, Spanish or Portuguese are acceptable

➢Submissions must be emailed to Hemisphere by May 31st, 2023 at:

➢Each submission must be accompanied by a cover letter that prominently notes the title of the essay, the field of study to which it pertains, as well as an updated complete CV that includes the author’s status (e.g. M.A., Ph.D. Student, or Ph.D. Candidate), department, and institution name and location. Authors will be notified in May of the status of their submission.

➢For formatting guidelines, see: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hemisphere/

➢Authors of essays published in Hemisphere will be invited to present their work at a symposium to be scheduled in Fall 2023 at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, if conditions allow. If not, we may hold the symposium virtually. Honoraria will be available to subvent travel expenses.

➢To view past volumes of Hemisphere, please visit UNM Digital Repository https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hemisphere/