I agree with George in that we live in "an aggressively visual culture." People are bombarded with visuals that can sometimes be interpreted in different ways. The fact that visual rhetoric can steer or sway thoughts and interpretations calls for an understanding that needs to be taught. As Diana George writes, "The English teacher's job, then, is to foster taste and critical judgment, two qualities that lift the schooled above the unschooled" (1433). If this is the same practice for creating an understanding within the literature medium, why wouldn't visual literacy become a more common practice within this visually dominated culture. All visuals pervade the senses to manipulate a response of some sort. Visual literacy will help students create their own meaning and understanding to paintings, films,and television in much the same manner as interpreting the text of a novel. In this way, visual literacy can help students analyze in detail and construct thoughts and arguments with their subjective writings. It is often said that television has created a culture of illiterate zombies but this is because many people have not become literate to the visual technology permeating the world. We are at a point where we can advance visual literacy from Beavis & Butthead watching television and making zombied giggles to noticing there is an arrow within the FedEx? logo signifying forwardness.
Reply From Caleb
Wom Ed, you make some great points. As I was reading George, I was asking myself the same thing: why hasn't composition/English studies taken on this concept of visual literacy more aggressively. Our whole society is predominantly image/visual driven, so it would definitely make sense to view visual images as a language of sorts, which would require some sort of literacy to deal with. Imagine if visual literacy was taught in secondary schools! I think the outcome would be amazing. More students would come out with the ability to not just read, but also better analyze the world around them. Instead of being just viewers of television/movies, they would become critics of the popular culture. Definitely some interesting thoughts.