The Narratives of <i>Topos</i>: Eva Leitolf’s <i>Deutsche Bilder – eine Spurensuche (1992–2008)</i> and <i>Postcards from Europe </i> (since 2006)


Around the turn of the century, the notion of topos (τόπος) underwent an interesting and necessary transformation. Presumably due to the popularization of digital technology, scholars started to progressively uncover the complex nature of the word by expanding on its general meaning as it pertains to the sphere of speech. This phenomenon granted to narratives some spatial characteristics, and at the same time brought into the light an old and critical relationship between text and image. In the form of a conversation, this essay deals with this critical relationship between text and image, and the way this conflictual relationship shapes social imaginaries, propaganda, and automatisms when representing social events. The essay will address these questions through an analysis of a series of pictures that had a great impact on Latin America’s social imaginary.


Propaganda; Latin America; photography; collective imaginaries

Atkinson, William Walker. Memory. Outlook, 2019.

Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. Routledge, 1991.

Casetti, Francesco. The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come. Columbia University Press, 2015.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. On Oratory and Orators; with his Letters to Quintus and Brutus. Translated or edited by John Selby Watson. Henry G. Bohn, 1855.

De Lungo, Andrea. “Seuils, vingt ans après. Quelques pistes pour l’étude du paratexte après Genette.” Littérature, No. 155, issue 3, 2009, p. 110. ID: 10670/1.m28hrr

Duarte, German A. La scomparsa dell’orologio universale. Peter Watkins e I mass media audiovisivi. Mimesis, 2009.

Havelock, Eric A. The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to Present. Yale University Press, 1986.

Herman, Edward S. and Chomsky, Noam. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Books, 2002.

Leitolf, Eva. Postcards from Europe 03/13: Work from the ongoing archive. Kehrer, 2013.

Salerno, Daniele. “Illegalizing Crowds: The Visual Representation of People Flows in the (Post-) Schengen Era.” Europa Dreaming, Edited by Moretti Matteo and Burgio Valeria, Bozen-Bolzano University Press, 2019, p. 109.

Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. Picador, 2004.

Staal, Jonas. “Propaganda (Art) Struggle.” e-flux Journal, Issue 94, October 2018, Accessed 1 Nov. 2022.

Published : 2022-12-31

DuarteG., & LeitolfE. (2022). The Narratives of <i>Topos</i>: Eva Leitolf’s <i>Deutsche Bilder – eine Spurensuche (1992–2008)</i> and <i>Postcards from Europe </i&gt; (since 2006). Review of International American Studies, 15(2), 25-47.

German A. Duarte
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano  Italy

German A. Duarte is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. His research interests include history of media, film history, cybernetics, cognitive-cultural economy, and philosophy. He is the author of several publications, including four books, edited volumes, essays, and papers in international journals. Among them, he recently authored the monographs Reificación Mediática (UTADEO – 2nd Edition 2020), Fractal Narrative: About the Relationship Between Geometries and Technology and Its Impact on Narrative Spaces (transcript, 2014), and co-edited the volumes Transmédialité, Bande dessinée & Adaptation (PUBP 2019), We Need to Talk About Heidegger: Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies (Peter Lang, 2018), and Reading Black Mirror: Insights into Technology and the Post-Media Condition (transcript, 2021).

Eva Leitolf 
Free University of Bozen Bolzano  Italy

Critical examination of the practices of image production and contextualisation is a central thread running through all of Eva Leitolf´s work, which explores contested societal phenomena such as colonialism, racism, and migration. She studied communication design with a focus on photography at University GH Essen. She earned her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts and taught at international art schools and universities before becoming full professor at Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in 2019.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Copyright Holder of the submitted text is the Author. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the RIAS websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). Any commercial use requires separate written agreement with the Author and a proper credit line indicating the source of the original publication in RIAS.

  1. License

The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license ( Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY 4.0 license.

  1. Author’s Warranties

The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.

If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution - By the same conditions 4.0 International".

ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).

  1. User Rights

Under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

  1. Co-Authorship

If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.

I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.