Call For Papers: Picturing the Truth - Law, Truth and Visual Images



Event Date: 


Location name: 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Drexel University Klein Institute

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 primarily aimed at those writing legal scholarship.
This participatory conference will bring together leading multidisciplinary experts with those who have an interest in the interpretation of visual media in the legal context. Photographs, video and data representations serve vital functions in legal decision making. The law often treats images as static, self-evident objects; interpreted as if their meaning is singular and authoritative. In contrast, a significant body of multidisciplinary scholarship uses a variety of different methodologies to explore the use, reliability and interpretation of visual information. 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.

This conference is comprised of two sessions:
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 and understanding of a variety of frameworks for thinking and writing about visual images. In addition to others, this masterclass will feature:
Christina O. Spiesel (Yale Law): The author of numerous publications about the use of visuals in the legal context, including the foundational work, Law on Display: The Digital Transformation of Legal Persuasion and Judgment, she is also an expert in teaching visual literacy to those working in the legal context.
Nicholas Mirzoeff (New York University/Steinhardt):  An expert on visual culture and author of How to See the World and The Appearance of Black Lives Matter, Mirzoeff is considered one of the founders of the academic discipline of visual culture.
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown):  An expert in visual culture and history, Professor Azoulay has authored numerous works that explore photographic theory, history, power, and human rights communicated through images. Her most recent work is Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism.  
Julianne Newton (Univ. of Oregon) Professor of Visual Communication for the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon. Prof. Newton is an award-winning scholar who has worked as a reporter, editor, photographer, and designer for newspapers, magazines, and electronic media. She is author of The Burden of Visual Truth: The Role of Photojournalism in Mediating Reality.

Catherine Zuromskis, PhD (RIT) Associate Professor, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, College of Art and Design, Rochester Institute of Technology. Expert in the histories and theories of photography, American art and visual culture, critical theory, contemporary art, aesthetics and theories of new media and technology, Professor Zuromskis will present on ways of seeing and interpreting images.
Siwei Lyu, Ph.D (Univ. of Albany, SUNY) Siwei Lyu is a Professor at the Department of Computer Science and the Director of Computer Vision and Machine Learning Lab (CVML) of University at Albany, State University of New York. Dr. Lyu is an expert on the development and detection of deep fake technology.

Scholars attending this session can request the opportunity to workshop ideas for their project at this conference. To have your work considered for this portion of the conference, please send a 1-2-page abstract of your idea by March 2, 2020 during the registration process. This abstract should describe your project and its relation to visual media. You are encouraged (but not required) to submit at least one image (or link to media) along with your abstract. Notifications of acceptance for this discussion phase will be sent on March 11, 2020.
Please register by May 1, 2020



Questions concerning the conference should be directed to Professor Amy Landers at To keep up to date and learn more, see our conference webpage at