Looking is a special form of activity. To notice, to have a closer look, to shift perspective and to question one's view is something people do – and not simply a matter of receiving sensory data but of constructing meaning based on what we think we know about the world.
Contemporary studies in visual rhetoric are often based on the assumption that the viewer imposes a form on the material world based on questions of intention. Against this assumption, I argue that things arise in the fields of power and material flows. It is by intervening in these force fields and following the flow lines that we interact with things and find our own paths or lines in the material surface. Discussing cover images and sketches of Pippi Longstocking to illustrate this claim the thesis, Pippi Between Worlds and Words (2020) in Rhetoric, brings perception to the fore as an interruption that breaks the monotony of everyday encounters. Thereby it stresses the dynamic meeting point between image and gaze as a creative act to join with those very forces that bring form into being.
My licentiate-thesis, Stories About a red Cottage (2011) in Swedish as a foreign language, is an attempt to combine cultural theory with a didactic method applied to Swedish as a field of study. With the two notions intertextuality and the foreign as a starting point, I discuss the importance of how an idyllic view of Sweden affects students studying Swedish as a foreign language as part of their studies in Scandinavistics. The students are familiar with the German culture and well aware of the legends and the myths about Sweden which are distributed via German media. At the same time, they are shaping new images of Sweden in the didactic interaction with the teachers. The study indicates that the encounter with a foreign culture requires preparation to question even what seems to be self-evident. Hence, the study proposes an intertextual approach when using texts for studies in foreign languages. The result also demonstrates that even if it is important that we critically analyze the stories we hear and our interpretations of them, it is as important that we demand the right to get lost in dreams because this is where we find a part of the secret of the esthetical experience.