Priesthood of Bad Faith

It’s been three months, and like clockwork, I received the decision for the manuscript that I sent to a publisher for review, three months ago, after thorough revision from the previously rejected manuscript, incorporating various changes and fleshing out some things that bothered the previous reviewers and/or editors.

Right, as you might guess, from the title alone, that it was rejected. There were two reviewers. That’s is pretty typical. Reviewer #1 was, I was told, has expertise in linguistic landscape and/or schoolscape research. Reviewer #2 was asked to check it from the perspective of cultural geography, because, well, as the title of this blog should tell you, it’s pretty much my thing, what I do and what I cover, not only in these essays, but also in actual articles.

In short, in case you feel like you just want the gist of this, Reviewer #1 sure wasn’t having it, hence the rejection. Reviewer #2 was super cool about it, actually commending me on a lot of things, getting the gist of it, as well as giving suggestions, at times veering off to wonder things (I was amused at times reading it).

Anyway, Reviewer #1 liked the idea that I draw a lot from geography, but, well, that’s about it and, it would seem, when I read on, that me doing my thing, the way I do it, borrowing heavily from geography still isn’t cool. I guess it was necessary to give this initial impression that my work was, at least somehow, worth the time spent reading it, although I get the feeling that it wasn’t.

Now, the first major gripe is tied to my approach or method, whatever you want to call it. I pointed out that I want to look at whether what Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen once stated, already in the 90s, about there being a shift in modes of expression, going from image to writing, as students progress through the school system, holds in this context. You can find this in their book ‘Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design’. As they (16) point out:

“In the early years of schooling, children are constantly encouraged to produce images, and to illustrate their written work.”

In other words, students are not only expected to produce a lot of images, they are encouraged to do so, no matter the context, draw for the sake of drawing, paint for the sake of painting and illustrate your written work. As they (16) clarify, this has to do with how adults consider producing images something that little children just do, as a matter of self-expression. They (16) move on to comment older children as students:

“By the time children are beyond their first two years of secondary schooling, illustrations have largely disappeared from their own work.”

In other words, it appears that there is a shift from the production of images to writing. Here it’s worth noting, however, that their wording is slightly sloppy here, considering that they comment that illustrations have largely disappeared, yet in the previous paragraph they refer to production of images in general, accompanied by illustrations that complement writing. I understand this as a general decline. Writing becomes the thing in education. That said, while there is a general decline, or so it would seem, there’s also a shift in the function of the use of images, which is something that I explicitly mentioned. In their (16) words:

“From here on, in a somewhat contradictory development, writing increases in importance and frequency and images become specialized.”

They (16) contextualize this, noting that back in the day, two or three decades ago, give or take, that is to say two or three decades go from 2006, so 1970s or 1980s, illustration used to be thing for learning materials in primary school, but then it declines later on, at late stages of primary school.

They (16) then add that this is still, more or less, the case, in 2006, with two notable exceptions. There’s actually more images used in all school subjects, but, still, it remains specialized, used for illustration, so writing remains primary. They (16) aptly summarize this point:

“In other words, materials provided for children make intense representational use of images; in materials demanded from children – in various forms of assessment particularly – writing remains the expected and dominant mode.”

This is what I pointed out, very clearly, which is something that Reviewer #1 seems to have liked, as opposed to simplifying things, asserting that the production of images goes down, while production of writing goes up. It’s rather that writing becomes primary whereas images become subsidiary. So, yeah, you do still get images, but it becomes specialized, illustrative in the representative sense, rather than self-expression, you know like it should be in art.

Now, Kress and van Leeuwen (16-17) actually cover this issue because, paradoxically, outside school images are more and more important. Now, in 2019, I’d say that that’s even more the case, or, to specific, “images play an ever-increasing role” as they (16) point out. Just look at social media. Sure there’s text, but there’s a lot of images in the mix. Then there’s Instagram. That pretty much revolves around images. Then there are memes. I mean, that’s image and writing, more than one mode, multimodality in a nutshell. Anyway, their point is that school is pretty outdated in this regard, or at least was in 2006. I’d say it still is. In their (17) words:

“But the skill of producing multimodal texts of this kind, however central its role in contemporary society, is not taught in schools.”

I agree. Writing is still the thing. Oh, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not against writing as such. I mean this blog is like 99 percent writing. So, yeah, I like writing, as well as reading. That said, I’ve taken more photos than many people combined, hundreds of thousands by now, because it’s what I’ve done for years, for money, and I’m sort of famous for that as well. Oh, and I totally get the multimodality part, combining modes. I’ve done that for years as well. I initially struggled with it but now it’s something that comes to me easily. I actually talked about that just today with someone who is starting out, how photography is one thing, but photojournalism is another thing, how the person struggles to come up with good text to accompany the photos. It takes practice, getting used to it, which is exactly what Kress and van Leeuwen are after here. Anyway, they (17) go on to really emphasize the issue, to be crystal clear:

“To put this point harshly, in terms of this essential new communication ability, this new ‘visual literacy’, institutional education, under the pressure of often reactionary political demands, produces illiterates.”

They (17) go on to add that part of the reactionary pressure has to do with how writing is so central in Western societies that anything besides it seems, well, illiterate, degeneration if you will. They (17) add that:

“Other visual communication is either treated as the domain of a very small elite of specialists, or disvalued as a possible form of expression for articulate, reasoned communication, seen as a ‘childish’ stage one grows out of.”

I also included this in my text. Now, Reviewer #1 wasn’t happy that I wanted to assess whether this holds in the Finnish context, in the school that I study, in my way. I look at the school as a learning and teaching environment. My thing is to look at the order of things in the environment, hence the landscape approach, considering that landscape is, for me, an ordering of reality. So, Reviewer #1 pointed out that I’m not doing the same thing as Kress and van Leeuwen, that I’m not looking at all kinds of things, like textbooks, worksheets, digital media, the stuff that they (16-17) mention. Now, mea culpa, I don’t do that, you are correct, Reviewer #1. I should have been more careful with my wording. That said, Reviewer #1 could have asked me to do exactly that, to specify that I’m looking at their statements and whether they hold in terms of the items present in the specific school unit, for reasons explained in the manuscript, rather than to criticize me for doing what I do, the way I do. I think that this argument is made by Reviewer #1 in bad faith. This would have been easy to fix, no biggie.

The second gripe Reviewer #1 has about my text has also to do with my approach. I point out, as I have done in the past, and as I have discussed in detail in my past essays, that the problem with assessing one’s surroundings is that landscape, as a way of seeing the world, as an ordering of reality, makes people not pay attention to their surroundings. For this reason I do not involve local informants. If I were to involve local informants, I would break the spell, or so to speak. I would make them do the unthinkable, yes, unthinkable, that’s what I stated there in the text, very clearly. I would make them go beyond their sense of reality, their sense of limits. The point about involving locals is to get the local sense of things, according to their sense of reality, I get it, but, as I point out, this is contradictory because then I ask them to do a thing, the only thing, mind you, that invalidates them as the locals, those who would certainly bring added value to the study. I am well aware of this issue, but please, when criticizing me for this, do explain how is it that I get their view without me polluting it with my critical view. This issue is well recorded in prior landscape studies that I cite in the previous paragraph, connected to the paragraph in question. I explain the issue from multiple standpoints, via different authors who explain this key issue, which I explicitly point as such, through different frameworks and different philosophies. I even point out the page numbers, so that people can check on these.

I am amused by how Reviewer #1 comments on this, noting that my exclusion of local informants is not convincing and that it is not even supported, when it certainly is. I’m sure that Reviewer #1 read my text, these two paragraphs, the one in question and the one before it, connected by me pointing out how they are connected in the first sentence of the paragraph in question, but I’m not convinced that Reviewer #1 understood the issue. On top of this, Reviewer #1 goes as far as to state that I use sources in a biased way. Now, take a look at the ones I cite and tell me that I’m wrong. I think this is why Reviewer #2, someone familiar with the works I cite, was asked to assess my text. Guess what! Reviewer #2 didn’t have a bad thing to say about it and actually commended me for it, calling it sound. I wonder why… Is it, perhaps, because, like me, Reviewer #2 knows what I’m talking about. Reviewer #2 even mentions that what is missing is the non-representational side, which I’m well aware of, but also notes that it’s not much of an omission, considering that it’s not relevant to this study, what I set out to do, and I agree. The only gripe Reviewer #2 has with this is how long this section is, but that’s because Reviewer #2 already knows the stuff I cover, which, I only cover in such great detail and great length because I assume that not many of my readers are geographers.

Reviewer #1 also states that I name drop, implying that I do it to it appear as if what I say holds. In this very specific case I provided examples, a host of different authors and their studies in order to contextualize my own position, which is obvious from the sentence which indicates that I associate with the discursive tradition of geographic cultural landscape research that tends to employ some sort of post-structuralist approach. I then point out what my own framework is inspired by and the similarities it happens to have to frameworks developed, in parallel, in other fields or disciplines, albeit partially drawing from the same sources, hence the similarity. This is followed by me listing my primary sources of inspiration so that it is absolutely clear who I draw from. Reviewer #1 actually points out that I should discuss the existing literature more, but, apparently only certain kind of literature, that is to say schoolscape literature, is acceptable. Why? This seems like paroachialism to me. Reviewer #2 doesn’t seem to mind, like, at all, more of the opposite.

Following these gripes, Reviewer #1 commends me for the theory part, only to take issue with it. I don’t really understand why Reviewer #1 goes on to comment it, when, like with the earlier gripe about the involvement of informants, it seems to me that Reviewer #1 doesn’t understand the theory, unlike Reviewer #2, who appears to know a lot about spatiality and landscape research. For example, apparently I contradict myself with regard to people’s lack awareness of their surroundings, the key issue, when I explain it in more detail, pointing out that we like to think that we are in control of the world, but we are not, hence it’s a common misconception, as I explicitly point out. It’s actually further discussed on the page following the pages listed by Reviewer #1. It’s pointed out that the sense of control is illusory, as established in prior research, as Reviewer #2 would certainly agree. In short, people think they are wide awake, that they know what’s what in their surroundings, but they don’t, which is exactly what makes them unaware. This is what I explained in this section, in great detail, with illustrations, just so that it would be easier to understand. It’d be great if I were able to involve the local participants, to assess the illusory control, but the problem is, as already stated, that I need to burst that bubble in order to do so. If I ask them to tell me about the things in their environment, I’m making them like me, aware of the surroundings, which is exactly the problem. I’m sorry Reviewer #1, somehow you seem to have managed to miss the point completely!

Reviewer #1 goes as far as to characterize my approach, me doing the work, as colonial, because I don’t involve the locals. Well, as I’ve pointed out a couple of times already, do explain how it is that I get the supposed local or insider perspective, when it requires me to alter their sense of reality, their sense of limits, to pay attention to their surroundings, when that’s something that people don’t do, as established in the vast body of existing landscape research. I’d love to get their accounts, but I can’t. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, to come up with a solution, but it’s just not doable.

Despite the initial token like approval of my conceptual framework, what it offers, the problem that Reviewer #1 has with it is that I do not build on schoolscape studies (which is pretty ironic because I’m one of those who have published in this field), educational and/or linguistic anthropology. Wait what, Jan Blommaert isn’t good enough? It’s also peculiar how in this context Reviewer #1 also mentions other fields, but doesn’t specify them. To be more specific, the issue taken by Reviewer #1 is that I’m not dealing with the relevant literature in these fields, including these unspecific other fields. Is not geography one of these fields, despite being the field that is known for, well, you know, specializing in all things spatial and having this long history of landscape research? I mean it’s clearly relevant to what I do and how I do it. I think it’s highly relevant. I think it’s more relevant than what is suggested by Reviewer #1. Something tells me that Reviewer #2 would take offense to not considering geography relevant, but, then again Reviewer #2 seems like the type of a researcher who welcomes all kinds of research, not just certain kinds. So, in other words, the problem is that I’m not citing the right people, nor subscribe to the right paradigm. Parochialism. That’s the issue.

Reviewer #1 just doesn’t seem to get it. For example, apparently the insights that I bring over from geography are interesting, yet Reviewer #1 argues that they are not related to the study or what follows this section. It only covers like the whole logic, why I do what I do, the way I do it, and why it is relevant. I mean the central points are reiterated in the final section, in the first paragraph.

There’s also this bit by Reviewer #1 about how I explain that landscape is not, strictly speaking, a material entity, because, it isn’t, and yet, at times, shockingly, refer to it, as if it was such. However, again, I do explain that it can be used as a noun, in the sense that it is understood as an incorporeal transformation, as a surface effect. It is certainly possible to think that way. Sure, it’s technically arbitrary, but alternatives like environment are equally problematic. We refer to an environment, as a noun, but, strictly speaking, where does environment end? Aren’t we environed by what’s around us? So, again, this argument is just made in bad faith. This is just na na boo boo type of stuff.

Now, I’m not saying that Reviewer #1 hasn’t included anything good in the mix, thus far. Sure, the theoretical framework could use some brushing up. There’s that, even though Reviewer #2 thinks it’s sound. To be honest, if you ask me, biased as I may be to my own thought, it’s effing solid. If you, Reviewer #1, don’t understand it, that’s totally on you. This section is so, so long and detailed because it is some next level shit that most people haven’t even heard of. Sure there are people like Reviewer #2 who get it and thus don’t need such an explication, but these people are like a handful, in the whole world. Reviewer #1 also points out that the landscape part is so heavy in comparison to the parts on agency and multimodality that the text is unbalanced. Okay, as I pointed out, I agree with Reviewer #2 that cuts can be made, albeit at the risk of making that part crazy dense and hard to understand, hardly an explication, which is what led to the rejection of this text in another journal. I wouldn’t call it a major shortcoming though. It’s workable, so hardly a major issue. Again, just more of bad faith.

The next gripe by Reviewer #1 has to do with my short takes on the relevant discourses that pertain to education. Again, more of bad faith, calling it draft like and anecdotal. Come on, I even list the relevant pieces of legislation and direct the reader the specific parts of those pieces of legislation where these things are indicated. I also tie what’s covered in them to relevant prior research, worldwide and in Finland, which is the context of this study.

In this context, Reviewer #1 feels the need to remind me, and the editor, of my earlier transgression of listing names, where, in my opinion, it was necessary in order to contextualize my own research in relation to prior research. Apparently I don’t provide a source when I indicate that certain school subjects are highly valued, whereas others aren’t. I most certainly do. I most certainly do. These can be found in the relevant syllabuses, if you just bother to look them up. I have clearly indicated them and they are easy to look up. They are accessible online. With regard to the related gripe by Reviewer #1, the following section on local curricula could also be expanded. Okay, sure, why not. That said, it does include all that is necessary. There isn’t much more to say because the system doesn’t allow the schools deviate that much from the national curricula. I also cannot give the specifics with references because the school is to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons.

What I’ll grant to Reviewer #1 is that I could have listed the subjects, which would have better indicated how relegated arts and crafts actually are. So, yeah, this part could have been stronger argumentatively, but that’s about it. Now I assume that the reader knows what I mean writing oriented and image oriented subjects, which, yeah, isn’t that great. That said, I have to point out that in the past I’ve explained this part in great detail, with like numbers of lesson hours per level of education, only to get criticized in review for it. Like how am I supposed to know what the appropriate level is here? Too much! Too little! Oh, how convenient!

I don’t agree with Reviewer #1 in the sense that these terms are too dichotomous. Reviewer #1 states that Kress and van Leeuwen present all school subjects as multimodal, with varying emphasis, as they (16) do point out. But that’s like stating the obvious. I don’t think there is any subject that is simply exclusively in this or that mode. Also, as pointed out already, they (16) do actually indicate that materials provided to students by teachers tend include a lot of image, but the students are expected to shift to writing. I do point this out early on and reiterate this in the final section. This is my point, that you, Reviewer #1, seem to not be willing to take into account.

I’m also most certainly not saying that certain subjects use certain modes exclusively. Writing oriented means that it writing is central to them. For example, I pointed out, with a reference, that certain subjects, namely languages, are highly valued because they are important in developing language skills. This is easy to look up online.

Reviewer #1 thinks that my materials and methods section is pretty basic. I agree. It covers what one might expect really. But, basic as it may be, Reviewer #1 isn’t happy about it for various reasons. Apparently I’m uncritical, as I follow quantitative linguistic landscape studies. Again, a whole host of bad faith arguments are presented in this regard. Apparently it’s not evident what I mean by when I state that I was all inclusive (with a snickery remark about me being omnipotent or something) in my data gathering, opting for a semiotic definition instead of a physical definition, yet, right underneath all this is a figure, which is explained, in detail. Did you, Reviewer #1, not read it, or just didn’t get it? I mean I did even give the reader the page numbers to my sources, which I use to explain my definition of the unit of analysis.

Could there be more bad faith in this? Reviewer #1 states that my method is relaxed and apparently lacks consideration for the dynamics of the said environment. I beg to differ. Firstly, it’s far from relaxed. Sure, it’s intuitive, but understanding is like that. When we make sense of things, we either get it or we don’t. Either you get what’s in that figure or you don’t. Explaining it, putting it into words is not what it is. You sure can try, go ahead, try to explain that, but you’ll end up on an infinite deferral, attempting to explain words by more words. There’s nothing relaxed about how sense works. Like no one can explain it, but that’s the point. Secondly, I most certainly do take the dynamics into account. What makes you, Reviewer #1, think I don’t? I do indicate how meaning making, regardless of the mode, functions through collective experience. If there is no shared collective experience, as in what counts as what, all we have is nonsense, like I point out.

Reviewer #1 also feels the need to remind me, and the editor, again, that excluding human interaction is a limitation. Yeah, it is. Agreed. But only inasmuch as we use the subject as a starting point, which I do not. For me, the subject is not universal, nor autonomous. For me, the subject, the self or the individual, whatever you want to call it, is not a legitimate starting point. They are abstractions that need to be explained, not be used as explanations (prior to being explained). For me, once you grasp that the subject is not a starting point, what I wrote in that text suddenly makes sense. I understand that it might be hard to comprehend, largely because it’s only likely that one doesn’t want to give up the notion of one’s autonomy, but that’s the point I make in the conceptual framework section. I mean, come on, I clearly indicate that my approach is discursive and, broadly speaking, post-structuralist, as well as provide a list of my main sources of inspiration. These guys agree with me on this. It should be very obvious that I’m a constructivist and thus highly suspicious of notions such as autonomy, intentionality, individuality and uniqueness. So, I most certainly disagree with Reviewer #1 with the depiction of my approach as unsuitable for answering my research questions.

Because nothing appears to be enough for Reviewer #1, my assessment of my data, meshed in the text where appropriate, is also criticized. Now, this time the section on agency is depicted as lacking theorization. Again, how did you, Reviewer #1, miss the part where I clearly explain this through the insights of Jacques Derrida? Are you really going to challenge Derrida on this? I mean you can, sure, but I sure wouldn’t. I mean, is he wrong when he points out that texts are orphaned at birth, functioning even in the absence of their creators, operating on their own, if you will, and that they can subsequently be put into use by anyone, for any purpose, as well as that they can thus be engaged by potentially anyone? Is he wrong in this regard? It would appear to me that he isn’t. Contrary to what seems to bother Reviewer #1 throughout the feedback, it would appear that items, inanimate objects, the things, I am looking at seem to have agency, as if humans aren’t the yard stick of interaction! I know, how utterly bastardly and anti-humanistic!

Reviewer #1 also points out, incorrectly, that I state that it is hard to decipher the authors as those responsible for the presence of various items are likely no longer around to be consulted. Now, to be clear, I stated that the fact that it is harder, not hard, to figure out the authors. I also used the word as, not since, and stated many of those responsible, not those responsible, are no longer present to be consulted. I mean you, Reviewer #1, state that I’m biased, but hey, looks who’s talking! This point was indicated as quoted in verbatim in the feedback by Reviewer #1, but looking at my own text, this is not the case. In addition, this is taken out of context. In the previous sentences I pointed out how landscapes, yes, I used that word the naughty way (like you can, inasmuch as you understand it as an incorporeal entity over corporeality, as used by Reviewer #2 in the feedback), are rather like palimpsests, in parts torn, smudged, written over, as well as erased, that is to say that they contain elements from various eras. This was a general comment regarding what one has to deal with. The point here is that, in many cases, we couldn’t even ask the people who made something or put it into place, to take Derrida’s insight into account. Sure, maybe in some cases it’s possible to find the people and ask them. Then again, are you kidding me, attempt that, for every possible item, in a school that hosts some 800 to 900 students plus staff. Yeah, yeah, sure sure. Again, more of bad faith.

I also point out that, as identified by Jan Blommaert, determining the authorship, on your own, isn’t hard, at all. I mean he (45-46) literally states in his book ‘Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity’ that “[t]his is not rocket science”. In other words, like already pointed out, the items themselves, appear, as if, they interacted with people, even in the absence of the people who made them or put them into their place. Then again, what do I know, maybe Blommaert is just wrong. Maybe Derrida is just wrong.

Then there’s this point made by Reviewer #1 that makes me shake my head. My interpretation is presented as questionable. Apparently many of my interpretations are questionable, yet only one example is brought up. Reviewer #1 doubts that an item, as presented in a figure, is made or created by student. This is an assertion that is not backed up by the text. I point out out that students “make use of writing” as well, but it tends to be secondary to image. Making use of something is not the same as creating, designing or producing. My analysis focuses solely on the issuers of items, as clearly indicated in the section pertaining to agency, as well in the relevant analysis section. Another similar issue is identified by Reviewer #1, when, apparently, I should have addressed the different functions of items, not just multimodality and agency. I actually have annotation categories for function, not only one but two different ones, addressing different aspects, as well as a genre category, but, what was this text about … oh, yeah … multimodality and agency. How is this even relevant? Again, more of bad faith, on top of bad faith.

Another snarky remark is made by Reviewer #1 about my choice not to include local informants. In this context, knowing that the items could have been made by just about anyone, what good does it do to ask someone else how one were to interpret this? How many people does it take for the interpretation to be reliable, for each of the 6016 items, mind you? 3, 5, 8, 35, 62, 88, 102, 208? Where does it end? What’s good enough a number? Something also tells me that if I were to ask any local to go through all that, they’d be like, no, no way, I ain’t doing your research for you.

Following the gripes about my approach, content analysis, which has been explained in general, in relation to multimodality and agency, with examples, Reviewer #1 questions the statistical figures as well, wondering how were these made. Again, this is all discussed in the text, how the annotation was done and how it was entered into a database. Okay, sure, I’ll grant you that maybe, maybe, I assumed too much from my readership when I don’t explicitly state how a database functions. But that’s something that can be fixed easily. I mean, I don’t think I need to explain to the reader what rows and columns are and how you can turn a table into a chart, to be more illustrative.

Also, Reviewer #1 thinks that my analysis lacks depth. How many variables do you want at one go? I have already sliced and diced the data, to tease out information according to more than two variables, but apparently nothing is good enough for Reviewer #1. Also, where on earth did I claim that this addresses all the complexity of educational discourses? In general? In Finland? In Southwestern Finland? In this school unit? Reviewer #1, this is your take on what I should be doing, not mine, so why are you assessing it on the basis of that criteria? Related to this, my research questions were also criticized for being too vague. Well, newsflash, discourse analysis is not something that gives you definite answers, so it’s kind of hard to ask very specific questions. Also, my research questions clearly focus on this school. I’m also very clear about this in the final section. I clearly point out the limitations of my study, but, again, that’s assessed in bad faith by Reviewer #1.

Finally, assessing the final section where I discuss my findings, Reviewer #1 takes issue with my wording. I state, in reference to my own prior publications, that landscape reflects certain systematic practices (aka discourses) and plays a role in perpetuating them, instilling desirable linguistic identities in students. That’s that. I then indicate that what I do in this text is in parallel to that, looking at how writing is instilled in students as the proper and desirable mode of expression, a sign of adulthood, where, conversely, image is not and, instead, a sign of infancy, except when complementing writing, being subsidiary. I mean if you look at the numbers and figures, this is evident, so, for me, this criticism that I’m basing this on Kress and van Leeuwen is just off.

Also, Reviewer #1 takes issue with a similar remark, me pointing out that students are expected to produce more writing. Again, what I actually state is that it seems that students are expected to produce more writing, which is not the same thing. I am not asserting that it is the case. I am saying that it appears to be the case. It should be clear that I am basing this on the data, considering that in the same sentence I indicate that results indicate that is the case. Reviewer #1 states that this is incorrect because I didn’t do the study the same way as Kress and van Leeuwen. Excuse me, but where did I ever state that my study replicates their study? Oh yeah, nowhere. My study is clearly different, limited in certain ways. I would say the same about Kress and van Leeuwen. Their work is hardly perfect. I mean their (35) discussion of landscape is pretty much shit. It’s kind of silly, really, how it is discussed as this concrete thing, as if it was not semiotic, which leads them (35) to use it metaphorically as semiotic landscape. I mean that’s just redundant. Landscape is, in itself semiotic, as established in existing landscape research literature. Then again, I don’t read Kress and van Leeuwen for this reason, to learn about landscape or spatiality, so no biggie. Oh, and I know, they do have other publications, besides the specific 1996/2006 book, plenty of them, but, the issue taken with my text by Reviewer #1 is in reference to this book. They do not do what I do, that is to say study the use of writing and image spatially, as manifested on items, as a matter of landscapity, so I have no idea why Reviewer #1 criticizes me for not doing what they do, in that book, quite briefly actually, instead of assessing my work on my terms, while I take cues from them.

Should I have been, perhaps, more careful with my initial wording? Okay, maybe I should, rather than implying. Granted. Then again, this is yet another bad faith argument. I honestly don’t write texts in hope of someone continuously reading them like the Devil reads the Bible.

Now, to wrap this up, as already pointed out, Reviewer #2 had great comments and suggestions, some which I could incorporate to my work, while some I was aware of already but didn’t find the room for them. Like I don’t mention de Saussure, because I work through Deleuze and Guattari, who, in turn build on Hjelmslev, who has his own take on things. I’ve also read Gillian Rose’s ‘Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Research with Visual Methods’, as cited in my methodology article. It actually led me to content analysis and Krippendorff’s book on it, ‘Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology’. I find it to work fine for this purpose, regardless of how colonial Reviewer #1 thinks it is. I also agree on the point that, technically, we are all authors when we read, hence my inclusion of Derrida, to whom it’s always an engagement with a text. I’m also familiar with how Barthes and Foucault approach the issue. My take is, however, slightly different, which is something that Reviewer #2 acknowledges and points out that Reviewer #2 does not want to impose on my work. I also acknowledge that I could look into spatial arrangements, such as how students are typically seated, facing the teacher, while the teacher stands in front of them, as a matter of discourse materialized. Sure. It’s one discourse among others that pertains to education. That’s, however, not what this text was about, which is a point that Reviewer #1 seemed to struggle to understand. This is not the text that will cover all the materialized discourses, in general with regard to education, nor in Finland, nor in Southwestern Finland, nor in this school unit.


  • Blommaert, J. (2013). Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes Chronicles of Complexity. Bristol, United Kingdom: Multilingual Matters.
  • Kress, G., and T. van Leeuwen ([1996] 2006). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (2nd ed.). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
  • Krippendorff, K. ([1980] 2013). Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Rose, G. ([2001] 2016). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Research with Visual Methods (4th ed.). London, United Kingdom: SAGE Publications.