May 29th: initial definition

  • Through the readings, I think that visual rhetoric is the incorporation of different genres into a text to convey a specific meaning. Those genres do not have to include drawings or pictures, but if they do it is deliberate. It is interesting to consider how different genres can be used in the classroom and how students interpret assignments differently, but incorporating visual rhetoric into assignments aids in heightening the students' understanding of a text.

May 30th in-class

May 30th definition

  • After reading Lemke, visual rhetoric is part of the changing definition of literacy itself. The definition of literacy is difficult to pin down, and Lemke argues that to be literate in today's society is to be able to incorporate a "text" in whatever form it is found. It's interesting to consider how the definition of literacy itself has evolved, and now a person can be "literate" in any number of things, whereas in the past "literate" involved only reading and writing an actual written form. Lemke argues that "no technology is an island," and while I took issue with this at first, I understand why this argument is valid (74). He argues that "you can never make meaning with language alone;" I tend to believe that language is powerful and the written form is nearly magical, but I also believe that how the words look on a page can say just as much as what the message actually reads--in this way I understand that the language is not speaking for itself even if it is just a typed sentence. The visual of it, just as tone when speaking, speaks volumes.
  • What excites me about the readings is that I am gaining more confidence about allowing my students to incorporate visual elements into their written texts. Although I believe that visual elements (even as common as paragraph headings or bullets) are important to a text, I do not use them in my own writing, so I had not previously considered encouraging my students to incorporate anything other than the standard essay components. I am still hesitant to encourage nonstandard visual elements (graphs, pictures, even headings), but I think that if I emphasize the importance of using these elements in a way that is rhetorically effective rather than just to take up space, they then have another tool with which to communicate effectively.

May 31st

June 5th

  • I don't really know what I can say about the readings except that I am more aware of visual images in a rhetorical context. I think that it is important to consider audience and purpose when designing a poster or advertisement, and sometimes it can be difficult creating rhetorically effective "texts."
  • When I read the chapter about considering cartoons or comics, I liked the idea that an entire chapter was being presented in this way. Also, McCloud? made me realize how we assign meaning to things that don't necessarily have meaning. I've wondered in the past how it is that simple stick figures can represent people and how the person drawing them can create emotions in their faces. Similarly, we now use emoticons in many forms of electronic communication--email, instant messaging, blogging, etc. These can be as simlple as a smiley face winking or a cat with blushing cheeks, but they represent something kind of foreign.
  • When considering the definition of visual rhetoric, I think that I'd now add that it is the creation of a text while consciously considering its visual aesthetics and purpose. That wasn't very articulate, but I think it gets the point across. Visual texts contain all of the same forms of persuasion as more traditional texts.

June 6th

June 11th

  • I have to first comment on the set-up of the Helmers book. The fonts change between articles, there are assignments inset within the text of the articles, there are bolded words that indicate their importance, etc. and the bolded words are the ones found in the glossary in the back. This takes me back to my high school days when we would have quizzes about the bold words and still had to look up everything in the glossary to find out its meaning. It just makes me question what the purpose is.
  • Reading through the chapters, I like that they have developed a process for their visual analysis, but I also think that handing out a process that everyone should follow is sort of like defining the writing process and making everyone conform. While I value the input, I think that when it comes to researching and writing a visual-rhetorical analysis, some of the steps that they laid out are logical and I will have to find my own way to do it.
  • As far as aiding my definition of visual rhetoric, I think that these chapters have helped me realize that when analyzing anything visually, I must pay attention to every detail. I must not rely on my first impressions, try to look deeper, look at it from all possible perspectives, and so forth.

June 12th

  • I think that the Trimbur article about Typography will help me significantly with my research project. One quote I particularly liked is "the irony of the grand narrative is that it suppresses the full upshot of its own discovery--namely, that writing amounts to be less a recording of speech than a visual coding system that communicates by employing a range of nonphonetic elements such as spacing, punctuation, frames, and borders, not to mention the eccentricities in codes, such as written English where different words can have the same sound and silent letters seem to defy phonetic strategies of pronunciation" (262). I agree completely that the appearance of words on a page says just as much as the words themselves. I read a lot of poetry, and there are different ways to approach poetry when writing it. That's why I chose to analyze the visual elements of poetry--line breaks, fonts, stanza breaks, spaces, capital letters, punctuation, etc. I think that even though you can't communicate some of these things verbally ("one cannot speak a capital letter"), on the page they speak volumes.

June 14th

June 18th

  • With regards to PowerPoint, I think that I somewhat agree with both positions. I think that Tufte is a bit dramatic, but his point is valid. These past two semesters I tried (to no avail) to get my students to create presentations that were not simple, formulaic, boring, typical powerpoint or posterboard. A few surprised me and created presentations that were quite visually appealing, but the standard response was a PowerPoint or a poorly decorated poster. Maybe one reason for this lies in Byrne's article: they haven't sufficiently explored the medium. PowerPoint presentations, most of the time, are boring and do make the content irrelevant, but I think that Byrne is right when he said that it is what you make it. you have to try harder to create presentations that won't bore the audience, and that's where the interesting presentations are.