Visual Environmental Communication

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Type of Call: 
Call for papers for journal theme issue
December 31, 2011

Visual Environmental Communication
Call for Manuscripts for a Special Issue of Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Volume 6, Issue 4 (December, 2012)
Editors: Anders Hansen (University of Leicester) and David Machin (University of Cardiff)
While there is a growing body of research on media coverage of the environment deploying a range of text focused approaches, there has not been a corresponding body of work on visual environmental communication. Yet, just as we can describe the way that environmental discourses are signified in texts through lexical and grammatical choices so too do we need to look at the visual semiotic choices that realize these in images. Like language, images are used to promote particular interests and ideologies, particular versions of events and issues through particular semiotic choices and combinations. If we wish to understand the media discourses that might shape public and political perceptions of nature, the environment and green issues we must also understand how these discourses are realized visually.
It has long been recognised in academic research that perceptions of nature and of the environment more generally are socially, politically and culturally constructed and that the visual plays a key role in this process. And it is accepted that historically specific constructions and visual representations of nature are used – and serve ideologically - to authenticate and promote particular arguments and positions in relation to everything from public debate about science, health and the environment to advertising and marketing of products, locations/tourist destinations, politics and business/corporate images. In light of the long pedigree of these discussions it is surprising that few studies have taken a closer look specifically at the visual aspect of environmental communication.
Recent studies, which have looked at the visualisation of climate change and the environment in the media, have noted variously the decontextualization and aestheticization of landscapes or physical settings, the inscription of advertising and other media images of nature and the environment into the romantic tradition of landscape images, the use of a standard range of symbolic and iconic images to represent a global environment under threat, the ideological construction of ‘pristine’ environments, and the provision of commercial image archives designed specifically to take advantage of climate change as a marketing opportunity. The indication is that the environment is visualized through the use of increasingly symbolic and iconic images rather than those which are recognizable because of their geographic/historical/political or socially specific identity. Through their repeated use these images replace other possible representations, particularly those that locate and connect such issues in actual concrete processes such as global capitalism and consumerism.
This collection focuses on analysis of the visual representation the environment and on the politics of visual environmental communication.

Call for Manuscripts
This call for manuscripts invites empirical research and critical essays on Visual Environmental Communication. Priority is given to submissions that draw on and offer analysis of concrete visual representations rather than those with a more theoretical or interpretive focus. Topics may include:

  • The visualization of climate change and other environmental issues in news media (television, press or web-news)
  • Visualization in promotional/political/campaign communications on the environment (this may include analysis of visual strategies in business/corporate environmental communication, government/local government environmental communication, pressure group/NGO environmental communication).
  • The use of nature and environment imagery in advertising and
  • marketing
  • Intercultural
  • and international differences in the visual construction of nature and the
  • environment
  • The
  • visualization of the environment/environmental conflict in popular film and media entertainment

Manuscripts must be prepared in English, should be crafted in a clear and concise style that avoids jargon, and should not exceed 8,000 words including references. The journal adheres to APA Style. Manuscripts must not be under review elsewhere or have appeared in any other published form.  All submissions should use MANUSCRIPT CENTRAL, accompanied by a cover letter indicating the desire to have the submission reviewed for this special issue. For further details on manuscript submission, please refer to the “Instructions for authors” on the journal’s website (  or ).  Upon notification of acceptance, authors must assign copyright to Taylor and Francis and provide copyright clearance for any copyrighted material.
Manuscripts should be submitted by 30 November 2011.  Contact Anders Hansen at with questions.
Please disseminate this call to any colleagues who might be interested.
Anders Hansen