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5377 Visual Rhetoric by Mind Map: 5377 Visual Rhetoric
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5377 Visual Rhetoric

What is The relationship between the surface image and the cultural Significance of it?


Language, anchorage, relay, diegesis (telling), as opposed to mimesis (denotation), Cartoon

Image, Denotation: non-coded, syntagm, non-coded, Is the photograph "innocent"?, "The denotatiion of the drawing is less pure than the denotation of the photograph" (158), Connotation; coded; paradigm, coded, paradigm, rhetoric, connotators, practical, national, cultural, aesthetic, Relationship: "Connotation is only system, can only be defined in paradigmatic terms; iconic denotation is only syntagm, associates elements without any system: the discontinuous commentators are connected, actualized, "spoken" through the syntagm of the denotation, the discontinuous world of symbols plunges into the story of the denotative seemed as though into a lustful bath of innocence."

examples, Panzani Advertisement, <html><img src="images/panzani.jpg">

Questions, Barthes focuses on the advertisement; does his argument work with other media?, How are the denotative and connotative images related to one another? Do you agree with this distinction? Is it possible for an image to be "innocent"?


Icon, nonpictorial, meaning is fixed and absolute. Their appearance doesn't affect their meaning because they represent invisible ideas." (199), Pictorial, "meaning is fluid and variable according to appearance. They differ from "real-life" appearance to varying degrees." (199), Cartoon is a kind of icon, The abstract nature of pictorial icons allows us to map meanings onto them.

Questions, How would you compare Barthe's concepts of the denotative image with McCloud's concept of the pictorial archon?, "In the non-pictorial icons, meaning is fixed and absolute. Their appearance doesn't affect their meaning because they represent invisible ideas" (199). Do you agree? Why or why not?, "Thus, when you look at a photo or realistic drawing of a face -- you see it as the face of another. But when you enter the world of a cartoon -- you see yourself."

Read Magritte through Barthes

Visual Culture


"the actual practices and customs, languages, beliefs, forms of representation, and systems of formal and informal rules that tell people how to behave as to the time" (O'Donnell 523)

Debord, "Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the outcome and the goal of the dominant mode of production. It is not something added to the real world -- not a decorative element, so to speak. On the contrary, it is the very heart of society's real unreality. In all its specific manifestations -- news or propaganda, advertising or the actual consumption of entertainment -- the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life. It is the omnipresent celebration of a choice already made in the sphere of production, and the constant result of that choice."

Cultural studies

O'Donnell, Raymond Williams: broadening culture to include high and low, Stuart Hall: power, race, ethnic identity, encoding/decoding, Site of production, Site of object, Site of consumption, Accepting the subject position, John Fiske: TV studies, Reality, Representation, Ideology, Reception studies

Rogoff, Purpose, Commentary versus critique, Commentary: interpretive, Critique: Transformative, "At stake therefore are political questions concerning who is allowed to speak about what" (Rogoff 391), "Every movement that has attempted to liberate marginalized groups from the oppressions of elision and invisibility has... insisted on having something to say, of having a language to say it in, and on having a position from which to speak" (Rogoff 391), The curious eye versus the good eye, Rose, Rogoff, Differance, the visual pun, Never-ending deferral of meaning, Web of signification, Three foci of visual culture studies, Images, Defined by questions or issues, not by subject matter, Viewing apparatuses, Technology, Social values, The illusion of transparency (Henri Lefebvre): "the illusion of transparency goes hand-in-hand with a view of space as innocent, as free as traps or secret places.", McCluhan, Subjectivities of identification, Spectatorship

hook, vernacular architecture, resistance, Hegemony, Questions, how would you describe books arguments in parts terms?

Discourse analysis, Foucault, Not what is hidden, but how it works, Power/knowledge, panopticon, Tonkiss (Rose 156), structure: "How, precisely, is a particular discourse structured and how then does it produce a particular kind of knowledge?" (rose 156), Booth, Untitled, social context


The good eye


Content analysis

coding strategies

Statistical analysis

Discourse analysis



Theories of Perception, Causal theories, Realism, Idealism, Phenomenology, Procedural theories, Constructivism, Direct perception, Ecological

Questions, Where do you stand on the mind/body problem?, Should we address percepion from the psychological end or the physical end?, How much do we create what we see? (constructivism), How does Boothe address hte problem of phenomenology?, How would different theories of perception explain visual illusions?, Consider Box 1.12. Where would a visual rhetor stand? A technical communicator? web designer?


What is Arnheim's take on the relationship between perception and cognition?

Where would you put Arnheim in the spectrum of positions left out by Boothe?

According to Arnheim, what is the special privilege of vision over the other senses?

What implications might selective vision and fixation have for visual rhetoric?, "I have shown that the need and opportunity to select a target exists In cognition even at the retinal level." (25)

how would Arnheim describe the relationship between percepts and concepts? What role do concepts play? (27-29)


How does our 3-dimensional mind respond to 2-dimensional objects?

Visually, do we perceive the world as three-dimensional or two-dimensional?, Hoffman: "The fundamental problem of vision: "The image at the eye has countless possible interpretations" (13), "The image at the eye has countless possible interpretations" (13)

How do we explain optical illusions?, Blue rollers,, Green chaser,, Akiyoshi Kitakoa,

Is perspective an optical illusion?

How would you explain "fooling the eye in rhetorical terms?

Rules, Necker cube,, Rule of generic views. Construct only those visual worlds for which the image is a stable (i.e., generic discrepancies view., Rule one. Always interpret a straight line in an image as a straight line in 3-D., Rule two. If the tips of two lines coincide in an image then always interpret them as coinciding in 3-D., Rule three. Always interpret lines colinear in an image as colinear in 3-D.



Are scientific graphics social? (same thing?)

Why do people use graphics?

How do people read graphics?

How (well) do graphics represent reality?


Abstraction, Mishra, Is the abstract more real?

Transparency, Roth etal., Do graphs become "transparent" symbols only when we're already familiar with the object?, "Rather than being testimony and source of an abstract scientific fact, graphs are indices, signs, to a complex realm of experience both during the data collection and analysis. ... We do not suggest here that these worlds are accessed directly this needs to be available as 'immediate' worlds always and already mediated by the language used to describe them" (349)., "There is therefore a tension in that the graph implements a particular way of reading what the graph says and that the particular transparent reading of any graph involves a leap that few are in a position to take." (347), "In all of this, readers do not get to the world or the text as they really are; that is, we do not suggest that scientists can somehow get out of language and thereby relate graphs and natural objects. ... Rather, graph readers cannot escape the fundamental condition of being in the world, a condition that precedes all reflection (Ricoeur 1991) and the understanding of which is always and already mediated by language" (343)., "In all of this, readers do not get to the world or the text as they really are; that is, we do not suggest that scientists can somehow get out of language and thereby relate graphs and natural objects. ... Rather, graph readers cannot escape the fundamental condition of being in the world, a condition that precedes all reflection (Ricoeur 1991) and the understanding of which is always and already mediated by language" (343)., "These studies suggest that graphs provide perceptual access, ways of seeing the 'natural objects in which scientists are interested, while at the same time shasping what there is to see" (328)., Tufte, chart-junk, data-ink ratio, "less is a bore"

Simplicity (Barton2), Related to transparency?, Syntactic, Limit variables, Promote harmony between elements, Semantic, Data-driven, Appropriate genre, One idea per visual, Pragmatic, Accommodates, Individualized viewers, Viewer tasks, Viewer environment

Power (Barton2), Modes of Power, Analytic, Synoptic, Ideology, William Playfair, CPA 1801, balance, CPA 1801, revenues, Ch.-Jo. Minard, Hannibal/Napoleon 1869, Cotton, 1858/1861, Re-visions of Minard, Dragga-Voss, Charles Booth, Maps of London Poverty, Wm Booth, 2010 Census Map

Ethics, Accuracy, Objectivity, Humanity


Visual Rhetoric Theory

What makes something we see "visual rhetoric"?

Foss, Symbolic action, Human intervention, Presence of audience, Is a tree visual rhetoric? An antelope? Under what conditions?, What is the relationship between aesthetics and visual rhetoric? Can art be visual rhetoric?, "Both aesthetic and utilitarian images constitute visual rhetoric -- works of art as well as advertisements, for example." (Foss 144), "The key to a rhetorical perspective on images and what makes the perspective a rhetorical one is its focus on a rhetorical response to an image rather than an aesthetic one." (Foss 145), "The function of an abstract sculpture may be to encourage viewers to explore self-imposed limitations." (147)

How do visual rhetoric and lexical rhetoric differ? Or do they?

Lemke, Typological (text): "Classify things into mutually exclusive categories" (79), Topological (visual): "Distinguishing variations of degree (rather than kind) along various continua of difference" (79)

Foss, "Although debate continues about the precise ways in which visual images differ from discourse, some features of visual images clearly require attention to different elements and the different treatment of those elements from what discourse does. For example, images do not express a thesis or proposition in a way that verbal messages do; they appear to do so only because viewers attribute propositions to them. ... Another difference between verbal and visual symbols is that language is general and abstract, while images are concrete and specific. Verbal discourse is able to deal with book, for example, as an abstract and not simply a unique concept, while images are tied to a physical form that requires them to deal in particularities." (Foss 149), Are these assertions true?

Bernhardt, "Visually informative text", "Non-visually informative expository text", is there any such thing as a "non-visually informative text"? Can we divide up text quite so neatly?

How do we approach visual rhetoric as a study?

Foss, inductive approach, oral versus textual versus visual rhetoric, How well does classical rhetoric, which was designed to teach and analyze spoken language, apply to written discourse?, Aristotelian canons, invention, Arrangement, Style, Delivery, Memory, Written discourse is visual, deductive approach, Foss's theory, Presented facts, Feelings, Emotion, Donald Norman, Emotional Design, David Westen, The Politcal Brain, Knowledge, Function

Is visual argumentation possible?

Theory, Birdsell and Groarke, Kenney, Blair

photo manipulation, If visual arguments are possible, what are the dynamics of visual lies?, What are the figures of photo manipulation?, Bonnie Melzer, Cases, race, OJ mug shot on Newsweek, Condi Rice, Beyonce Knowles, bodies, Jeff Schewe, "Kate Doesn't Like Photoshop", history, Edward Curtis Indian photo, photoshop disasters, Are these unethical if viewers don't expect them to be truthful?, Is this a problem only in journalism?, NPPA code of ethics, David Shenk, Wired: "Obviously, there is no justification for an editor digitally repositioning subjects in order to give the false impression that a kiss or slap or snub is taking place. But I would argue that the manipulation needn't be nearly so flagrant in order to be unethical and damaging. When untidy or unappealing objects are cleaned up or removed, the essence of that photo also quickly disappears. The unspoken contract between the photographer and the viewer is broken. The photo is no longer a glimpse of the scene. It is now an illustration: an interpretation with selective facts, categorized in a particular way, with some details highlighted, many others simply obliterated. "


What difference does a disciplinary home make?

Should the visual be taught in all disciplines, in some disciplines, or in a separate place, like a department of image studies?, Hill's "utopian proposal"

What role should visual studies take in English departments? Writing programs?, Stroupe, elaborationism

How should we teach the visual?

What should we take as our primary outcomes?, critical?, practical?

What kinds of pedagogies would be most appropriate?

What kinds of curricula?