Call for papers: CFP Panel: Images as Agents of Cultural Transformation Processes (16th International Congress 2020 of the German Semiotic Association)

CFP Panel: Images as Agents of Cultural Transformation Processes

The 16th international Congress 2020 of the German Semiotic Association “Transformations of Signs and their Objects“ (Chemnitz, 22. bis 26. September 2020)

Download: DGS_Call_Image_Cultural Studies

To achieve its goals, the German Semiotic Association organizes conferences, colloquia, workshops, courses, lecture series on core areas of its research fields. Moreover, every three years the association organizes an international congress.
Within the 16th international congress „Transformations of Signs and their Objects“ (Chemnitz, 22. bis 26. September 2020), the sections Image and Cultural Studies (Kulturwissenschaft) have organized a joint panel on the topic “Images as Agents of Cultural Transformation Processes” and invite for paper proposals.

Images as Agents of Cultural Transformation Processes

The approach to images as cultural documents and testimonies of collective history, as well as instruments of social shaping, formed a central feature of early cultural theories. Aby Warburg, the founder of the Cultural Studies Library, referred to the fundamental role of images in cultural history and cultural studies very early on; in particular, he analysed images not only as symbolic representations of cultures, but also as carriers and storages of affective expression. Warburg, like most members of the Warburg Circle, established a new form of cultural history and cultural study based primarily on pictorial theories. They all understood images as cultural testimonies and studied their potentials to transform societies and cultures along “Migration Routes” through space and time.

It should be noted that this perspective, in turn, mobilized a paradigm shift within the humanities, which eventually led to the development of the modern interdisciplinary Cultural Studies.

The joint and interdisciplinary panel of the sections Image and Cultural Studies at the German Association for Semiotics revisits the tradition mentioned above and focuses on studying the dynamic relationships between images and cultures. In particular, the panel would like to address questions such as:

– How do images participate in the transformation of cultures?

– How can we explain the agency of images influencing cultural processes? What constitutes this agency?

– How is it possible that images – like Warburg already assumed – have a sufficient potential, especially when looking at processes of cultural transformation?

– How do images represent cultural transformation?

– What role do images play in cultural and social changes and shifts caused by globalization, migration, climate crises or, the so-called post-democratic or post-factual era?

– How do images contribute to the transformation of knowledge within memory cultures?

– How can the cultural capability of images be conceptualized within the framework of multimodal configurations?

Please send your proposals for papers in German or English (20 minutes) and a short academic CV by email to no later than 01. December 2019.
There is no limitation as to specific periods or cultures. We are looking forward to contributions from Semiotic as well as from the disciplines Art- and Image Studies, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Neurobiology or any other relevant field.

The document should include: Title, name of the author, summary of the topic (max. 300 words), affiliation, email address, short-bio, list of publications (max 5).


Organized by the sections

Image: Jacobus Bracker (, Klaus Sachs-Hombach (klaus.sachs- hombach@uni-tuebingen) und Martina Sauer (

Cultural Studies: Elize Bisanz ( Stephanie Schneider (

Information to the congress organization

The congress will be held between 22. and 26. September 2020 at the Technical University in Chemnitz.
Conference conception and organization: Ellen Fricke (, Professor Germanic Languages, Semiotic and Multimodal Communication, Technical University Chemnitz.

Conference organization: Matthias Meiler ( and Martin Siefkes ( as well Jana Bressem and Daniel Schöller.

For additional information please visit < german-semiotics-society-2020>. We also recommend the calls of the other sections.

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