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Picturing ‘Truth’: Visual Images and the Law

Call for Abstracts

Picturing Truth Header Image

The Drexel University Kline School of Law is hosting two events to explore issues surrounding the use, reliability and interpretation of visual information in the legal context. These sessions are open to faculty of all ranks and from all disciplines, although they are primarily useful for those writing legal scholarship.

These workshops will bring together leading multidisciplinary experts with legal scholars who have an interest in the interpretation of visual media. Photographs, videos, and visual representational practices of data representations serve vital functions in legal decision making. The law often treats images as static, self-evident objects and interpreted as if their meaning is singular and authoritative. In contrast, a significant body of multidisciplinary scholarship has engaged in extensive work that explores the use, reliability and interpretation of visual information. For example, some disciplines contend that representative images are comprised of constructed meanings based on ways of seeing, communal symbols, and collective communicative activities. Other scholars are engaged in the problems inherent in using visuals to represent real-world events. In an era where the concepts of truth and post-truth are under examination, understanding how visual images convey information has become more valuable than ever.

The two sessions will proceed as follows:

First, the masterclass component will include several sessions presented by experts from various disciplines to introduce a rich set of frameworks for understanding and interpreting visual media. These sessions will provide legal scholars with multidisciplinary frameworks for thinking and writing about visual images. Attendees will also have the opportunity to workshop ideas for their own projects.

Applicants for this masterclass must submit a 1-2-page abstract by January 11, 2020, which describes their idea for a scholarly project that has some relation to visual media. Applicants are encouraged to submit at least one image along with their abstract. Notifications will be sent on February 9, 2020. If accepted, participants are asked to secure attendance with a $100 registration fee (waivers available). This masterclass will be held at the Drexel University Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 8, 2020.

Second, masterclass attendees will be invited to participate in a follow-on roundtable discussion of their draft papers that will be held during September 2020 at the same location. The convening committee will issue a separate call for drafts for this second event.

All correspondence, including the submission of abstracts, should be directed to Professor Amy Landers at

This page will be updated with Masterclass expert names and biographies and more conference information soon.