FLEMING Increasingly people want to talk about visual argument, visual rhetoric, etc. Fleming isnt sure images alone can be arguments. Visual Argument Visual texts sometimes difficult to interpret? Do not advance a thesis or proposition in the way
verbal messages do? Thesis often ambiguous? Components of visual image often shown at the same time, rather than successively in the way words are. Can we make some distinctions here: Now it is useful to expand what we mean by a text, to consider material objects, media texts, visual texts; E.g. malls, casinos, supermarkets, web spaces, etc designed to persuade.
So are monuments they are designed to construct national narratives. But does it make sense to conflate argument and persuasion, and argument and communication argument and coercion, seduction, trickery, etc- i.e. instrumental and reasonable persuasion. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES? Fear of a visual planet? (by
scholars) Biases about the centrality of the visual (Postman, the peekaboo world infantalizes and confuses; television and the dumbing down of America; Idiocracy) Argument by association sidesteps reasoning but has a big impact in our frantic, fragmented, image filled world? This is part of the famous argument advanced by
Tufte in The cognitive style of powerpoint There has been a big increase in the study of visual texts across a range of disciplines Some have argued that it is hugely overdue, that a verbal bias has long endured, and visual literacy is desperately needed. There has been a rationalist bias (think formal logic versus informal; images supposedly lack argument, syntax, etc.) Is this the result of elitism,
protestant legacy (iconoclasm), the ineptitude of scholars, fear of losing control, institutional/economic reasons, or something else? A range of disciplines discuss visual texts: Rhetoric (which includes document design, visual persuasion, technical communication, visual tropes) Communication studies
Cultural Studies Semiotics Anthropology Film and media studies Some terms for the analysis of visual texts Formal Analysis
Examples: contrast, continuity, alignment, repetition, proximity, balance, cohesion, (chunking and arrangement) proportion, focus, spacing (space as marker - white space, gray space, negative space; figure-ground contrast), emphasis (lines, arrows, highlighting, etc.) line, hue, saturation, etc. Key Criteria: simplicity, clarity, effective contrast, good use of white space, balance, alignment, consistency, clear hierarchy. Example: Old tech writing site General Rhetorical Vocabulary
Audience, purpose, context, rhetorical strategies, ideal audience/implied reader, arrangement, style, delivery, rhetorical situation, framing and perspective, terministic screens, etc. Rhetoric, Argument & Persuasion: Traditional terms for the analysis of argument. Claim, warrant, evidence, rebuttal, ethos, pathos, logos, enthymeme, implications and assumptions, topoi, appeal to analogy, authority, principle, causality, etc.
Rhetoric & Figural language Visual puns, metaphors, metonymy, personification, hyperbole, irony, etc. KENNEY: Rhetorical schemes occur when a text contains excessive order, regularity and redundancy - rhyme, rhythm, parallelism, antithesis,
alliteration, etc. Rhetorical tropes lack closure, contain deficiency of order, defamiliarize, and require audience to elaborate, engage, add interpretation hyperbole, metonym, metaphor, pun, irony, etc
Literary & Cultural Studies Point of view, intertextuality, emplotment, character, characterization, narrative, focus, silence/absence, identity, ideology, cultural myth, subject position, identification, disidentification, etc.
Each field brings a particular terministic screen (Burke: every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing) There is significant overlap between many of these fields in terms of categories, concepts, methodologies, etc. I encourage bricolage (not my discipline right or wrong) A key theoretical question is the extent to which categories from the
analysis of verbal texts can be used to analyze visual texts (and vice versa) Some rhetoricians (Williams, Wysocki, Hill) argue that the terms used to analyze visual can help in the interpretation of verbal texts in fact we need to rethink literacy instruction altogether. Some also argue that just as the mass media explosion after WWII helped sensitize scholars to previous shifts (cf work on orality and literacy) so the current multimedia, digital shift sensitizes us to the ways in which images functioned in the past (can we talk of
medieval multimedia texts?) Argument by association? Elizabeth Dole TV Ad - Promises http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuS342 L22QI CNN's Campbell Brown discusses Elizabeth Doles Godless ad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMzX_E
Afwyc&feature=related ARGUMENT BY ASSOCIATION The famous daisy ad by Johnson, which works by association, innuendo and implication: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKsbTL-pRg http://www.pbs.org/30secondcandidate/timeline/years/1964b.html
Or a more modern equivalent, by Rick Santorum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzthL0ATSQg With the predominance of the visual, do we move to the era of persuasion by association, or one of these things is a bit like the other one?
PERHAPS works by enthymeme, inference, implication, or abduction? CAN IMAGES REALLY WORK WITHOUT WORDS what kinds of communicative acts are possible, and impossible?
Example: The Google Images Storyteller http://blog.outer-court.com/story/ Context Are images more dependent on context than verbal texts? Are they inherently more polysemic? Do words let us create a fuller, more stabilized context for their interpretation?
Example: the Chevy Tahoe ad http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Chevy_Tahoe_2007_Ad http://www.it-is-law.com/tahoe/tahoe.swf (Taho-liban) Chevy Ad remixed with environmental criticism
Example insert captions in the following, then try inserting an image in the following verbal text, and see how each alters the other. http://www.cinematical.com/2007/09/07/shoot-em-up-insert-caption/ "Look... I'm hungry and you're hungry, it is an unfortunate situation.
But there is no reason we can't share these baby bottles." Write two scripts to encourage interpretations that are as different as possible Image 2 What are the signs here? 1. 2.
ready.gov claims these images communicate: If you become aware of an unusual or suspicious release of an unknown substance nearby, it doesnt hurt to protect yourself.
A biological attack is the release of germs or other biological substances. Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or be eaten to make you sick. Some biological agents can cause contagious diseases, others do not. If you are sprayed with an
unknown substance, stand and think about it instead of seeing a doctor. Use your flashlight to lift the walls right
off of you! Hurricanes, animal corpses and the biohazard symbol have a lot in common. Think
about it. If a door is closed, karate chop it open. From: thingsyoushouldknowbeforeaterroristattack1.pdf found at http://officespam.chattablogs.com/archives/036476.html Vocabularies for vision
Each field brings a particular terministic screen (Burke: every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing)
There is significant overlap between many of these fields in terms of categories, concepts, methodologies, etc. I encourage bricolage (not my discipline right or wrong) A key theoretical question is the extent to which categories from the analysis of verbal texts can be used to analyze visual texts (and vice versa) Some rhetoricians (Williams, Wysocki, Hill) argue that the terms used to analyze visual can help in the interpretation of verbal texts in fact we need to rethink literacy instruction altogether.
Some also argue that just as the mass media explosion after WWII helped sensitize scholars to previous shifts (cf work on orality and literacy) so the current multimedia, digital shift sensitizes us to the ways in which images functioned in the past (can we talk of medieval multimedia texts?) Rhetorical Interpretation and Analysis Traditional categories:
What audience is appealed to? Is there an ideal audience? An implied audience? How do images construct their audience? What role/position do they invite us to adopt? How do they create particular gazes, spaces for identification, particular points of view? Are we invited to be spectator, voyeur, participant?
In Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema Laura Mulvey argues for the concept of a male gaze. The audience is required to see the action and characters of a text through the perspective of a heterosexual man; the camera lingers on the curves of the female body, and events which occur to women are presented largely in the context of a man's reaction to these events. Mulvey argues that the male gaze denies women agency, relegating them to the status of objects. The female viewer experiences the text secondarily, by identification with the male. Mulveys work has been highly influential in feminist theory, media studies and cultural studies, although it has also been criticized, qualified and reworked
significantly, particularly from scholars doing audience analysis, reception studies and anthropological work. We can ask: what gender, race, class etc. does an image invite the audience to identify with? Context The context of production and reception The cultural, political, personal, historical, and economic context
Our own cultural and social embeddedness, positioned points of view, identities, assumptions, presuppositions. The web of texts that are referenced, that relate to or can be connected to a visual text (intertextuality) VISUAL CULTURE (Kenney) What do you notice about these movie
posters from the 1950s? HORROR movie posters in the 1950s regularly focus on a scene of attack, with a woman in peril. The posters put the viewers in the position where they are asked to take action and to imagine themselves doing something to save the woman. The main scene in each poster spills over the edge of the poster, making it seem as if we, the audience, are there in the frame we are incited to act.
For example, in the creature from black lagoon poster, the rescuers are far away we are closer. Conversely, women always are always victims and powerless. If they have any power, this is demonized. When ads used a lot of logos Todays ads often use different appeals
WE CAN READ MATERIAL CULTURE RHETORICALLY By readingwe mean something more than simply lifting information out of books and articles. To read a text or event is to do something to it, to make sense out of its signals and cluesReading is thus not something we do to books alone. Or, to put it another way, books and other printed surfaces are not the only texts we
read. Rather, a text is anything that can be interpreted, that we can make meaning out of or assign value to. In this sense, all culture is a text and all culture can be read. Joseph Harris and Jay Rosen. Purpose What is the text trying to do/achieve? Persuade? Inform?
Challenge Resist Document Record Parody Entertain Provoke Etc.
Rhetorical Strategy This can include such elements as: Framing Distance from the subject (is the image a close-up, medium shot or long shot, and how is this used to suggest importance, relationships, etc?) Point of view (Eyes the prize; how does the author position herself?) A low angle shot tends to make the subject look powerful, whereas a high angle shot can reduce the size/importance of the
subject Foregrounding/backgrounding Selection Use of visual tropes Arrangement of elements Juxtaposition of images what relationships are inferred? Can you think of examples of rhetorical strategies in visual texts youve seen?
Selection Rhetoric reveals itself not just in framing, point of view, lighting, etc., but in image selection. Visual argument in everyday
television viewing Visual Tropes Metonymy
Metonymy: works by associating meaning where a part stands for the whole "Ive got a new set of wheels" (car , motorcycle, etc.) We need some new blood in the project (we need new people with new ideas) Metonymy involves transfer of meaning from one thing to another
similar thing EXAMPLE picture of Eiffel tower meant to convey the idea of Paris Metaphor Metaphor: works by comparing things that are not literally alike
"put that file on the desktop", "he is a beast" He cracked up, I am a little rusty today, The BLT is a lousy tipper (Key reference: Metaphors We Live By, by G.Lakoff, M. Johnson) All figures of speech which use association, comparison, or resemblance can generally be called types of metaphor, or metaphorical.
Drink provokes the desire but takes away the performance. William Shakespeare Try to work out how the metaphors below reveal basic cultural assumptions 1. Spatial Metaphors The foot of the bed, the foot of the hill, the back of the house, the face of the mountain, the leg of the chair, the skin of the orange, etc. 2. Metaphors for Arguments
Your claims are indefensibleI attacked the weak points in his argumentShe couldnt counter my criticisms his criticisms were on targetshe won the argumenthis position is stronghis argument lacked support 3. Knowledge & Understanding I see what you are saying (cf. savoir in French). She showed great insight. My view of this issue iswhat is your outlook on the problem? The concept was clear to her.
4. Life/Career He saw no way of getting ahead. He felt he was falling behind. Where do you want to be in 5 years? His career path was working out well. She felt her life was finally on the right track. He was approaching his forties. Things were going well (note how the auxiliary verb go is often used to indicate the future, as in Im going to be a lawyer.) [Life is a journey (the person is a traveler, purposes are destinations, means are routes, difficulties are obstacles, counselors are guides, achievements are landmarks, choices are crossroads]
Metaphors Create Frames and Involve Entailments Examples: war on drugs; society as machine/organism; society as Darwinian survival of fittest. Social problems: some have argued that liberal and conservative positions on social problems tend to involve different assumptions. The more one explains problems such as crime, homelessness, unemployment etc. in terms of individual flaws, the less likely one is to support social service spending, and the more likely one is to support tough laws (three strikes) and the death penalty. The more likely one is to consider such problems in terms of social explanations, the more likely one is to support social service spending, and the more likely one is to be against the death penalty.
Hyperbole is intentional exaggeration or overstatement, often for dramatic or humorous effect Litotes is the opposite dramatic understatement Personification Tony the tiger, Yogi bear, much kids advertising personification
Willie Wiredhand, the mascot of the American rural electric movement. Analogy Visual Argument Argument by association (analogy?)
Biases about the centrality of the visual (Postman, the peekaboo world infantalizes and confuses; television and the dumbing down of America; Idiocracy) Argument by association sidesteps reasoning but has a big impact in our frantic, fragmented, image filled world? This is part of the famous argument advanced by
Tufte in The cognitive style of powerpoint ARGUMENT BY ASSOCIATION The famous daisy ad by Johnson, which works by association, innuendo and implication: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKsbTL-pRg http://www.pbs.org/30secondcandidate/timeline/years/1964b.html
Or a more modern equivalent, by Rick Santorum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzthL0ATSQg With the predominance of the visual, do we move to the era of persuasion by association, or one of these things is a bit like the other one?
PERHAPS works by enthymeme, inference, implication, or abduction? Images & Cultural/Rhetorical Analysis What information do images provide us
about culture? How can we use images to engage in rhetorical and cultural analysis? Rhetorical/Cultural Analysis 1. What patterns can you identify in pictures that depict a particular situation, thing or event? What does this tell us about cultural attitudes 2. What absences can you identify?
3. Try reversing one of the roles in a picture and ask what difference this makes? 4. Engage in historical or cross cultural comparison this may point to cultural shifts or reveal taken for granted cultural assumptions. 1. Patterns Cultural trends & shifting ideals for
men Ken: 1950 vs 1988 Changing beauty standards In 1957, Miss America was 5'7" and weighed 150 pounds. In 2002 Miss America was: 5'9''
117 pounds What patterns can you identify? Goffman argues that the positioning of bodies displays appropriate social roles for the genders, that a person's behavior and appearance can be expressive and symbolic, communicating to observers their social identity, their inner states and
feelings, their intentions and expectations, and the nature of their relationships with others. This approach to understanding human behavior is known as the symbolic interactionist perspective. Goffman observes that in every culture symbolic codes are developed which express idealized social identities and relationships. Images of women and men together in the media often draw on these indicative codes.
Women are pictured more often than men in what Goffman calls the "recumbent position... one from which physical defense of oneself can least well be initiated and therefore one which renders one very dependent on the benign-ness of the surround...Floors also are associated with the less clean, less pure, less exalted parts of a room-for example, the place
to keep dogs" (p. 41) What patterns can you identify? Goffman argues that women are often posed bending their heads or bodies at an angle, or "cant." The effect of cant, he says, is that the "level of the head is lowered relative to that of others, including, indirectly, the viewer of the
picture. The resulting configurations can be read as an acceptance of subordination, an expression of integration, submissiveness, and appeasement." (p. 46) RECLINING NUDES 1509 - 1997 (top left) Giorgione, (top right)
Titian, (above) Goya, (left) film still, Titanic. Most nudes depicted in art are female. A fairly small number of nudes are male. What are some of the differences in the way male and female nudity is represented?
What do gesture & bodily arrangement communicate? Reversing roles Why does it strike us as odd, bizarre or humorous when roles are reversed? What does this tell us about the cultural construction of gender of the qualities are associated with images of masculinity
and femininity and the accepted boundaries between them? According to Kilbourne, women are more often shown dismembered (just parts of their bodies shown), associated with products, shown as smaller than a man, engaged in various forms of ritualized subordination, prostrate or recumbent, bent or leaning back, infantilized (with finger
coyly in their mouth, standing pigeon-toed, wearing little girl clothes, sucking on lollipops, etc.), looking dreamy and introverted, overcome with emotions, or symbolically silenced with hand over the mouth. The Cultural indicators project (Gerbner & cultivation theory) Gerbner dean of communications at the
Annenberg School of Communications Cultivation theory attempts to understand how "heavy exposure to cultural imagery will shape a viewer's concept of reality Gerbners work points to large scale patterns in movies, advertisements, television and other forms of popular entertainment.
The rhetoric of War posters War poster in fascist Italy (WWII) War posters are interesting as they distill myths, symbols and narratives of national identity with particular persuasive intensity.
They also represent others, playing off various cultural and racial stereotypes Poster produced in Italy during WWII vilifying American troops & exhorting Italians to resist American troops Moms Rising a fascinating netroots/activist group that
draws on tropes from WWII recruitment posters to push for various progressive changes in policy http://www.momsrising.org/motherecard/ Rhetorical Strategy This can include such elements as: Framing Distance from the subject (is the image a close-up, medium shot or
long shot, and how is this used to suggest importance, relationships, etc?) Point of view (Eyes on the prize; how does the author position herself?) A low angle shot tends to make the subject look powerful, whereas a high angle shot can reduce the size/importance of the subject Foregrounding/backgrounding Selection Use of visual tropes
Arrangement of elements Juxtaposition of images what relationships are inferred? WHAT STRATEGIES CAN YOU IDENTIFY IN THESE IMAGES?
Emina Uzicanin was just 5 years old. Her family was living on the outskirts of Sarajevo. On a sunny afternoon in May, Emina was playing in a field behind her Uncles house. There, she spotted two little rabbits. As soon as she started toward them, the rabbits took off. So she began running. Five
feet. Ten feet. Thats when it happened. An ear-shattering explosion ripped through Eminas body, severing her left leg and leaving the rest of her badly scarred. Every 22 minutes another innocent civilian is killed or maimed by a land mine. Right now there are over 60 million unexploded land mines waiting just beneath the
earth in nearly 70 countries. We need your help to rid the planet of land mines and to help its victims like Emina. Physicians against landmines
Language: Note the ads language. Consider what the pronoun its refers to in this text. Would you have expected the word their instead? Given the grammatical
structure, what is Emina Uzicanin a victim of? What value terms or loaded adjectives are in this text? Message: Note the ads argument. Of all the ways that the horrible effects of land mines could be dramatized, why do you think the ad creators decided on this particular strategy? What impact is the ad striving for? Why do you think this particular
individual was chosen to represent the land mines and not other kinds of victims? Composition: Note the ads environment. What is included in the photograph or not included, and why? What is the overall effect of including only an unattached branch and not more specific scenery? What if the victim were pictured on crutches or with an artificial limb how would that alter the ads effect?
Medium: In this format, what exactly does the message urge the reader to do? Why was the text designed in this fashion? What purposes does the type design serve? What information about land mines is being presented? What elements are juxtaposed? In what sort of magazines would you expect to find this advertisementor not expect to find it?
CONTEXT OF PALM AD Physicians against Land Mines (PALM) describes itself as a non-governmental organization whose mission is to end the death, dismemberment, and disability caused by Land mines. A program of the Center for International Rehabilitation in Chicago, PALM sponsors public information initiatives, advocates reforms in international
law, and runs numerous programs for the disabled. It also educates the public through advertisements, such as the one reprinted here. Advocacy ads exist to raise Public consciousness and often money about social causes. This advertisement is one of many designed to educate people about land mines as an ongoing international issue. Although used primarily for military purposes, unused or leftover land mines can take large tolls on civilian populations, primarily among developing
nations. It is estimated that over 80 percent of all land mine victims are civilians, and of these 30 to 40 percent are children under fifteen. In 1999, 137 countries signed a treaty prohibiting the use,stockpiling, and production of land mines, but the U.S., Russia, and China did not sign. http://www.cirnetwork.org/advocacy/palm/emina.hml
AUTOMAKERS ARE TRYING TO DECEIVE YOU ABOUT VEHICLE POLLUTION, claiming that Autos manufactured today are virtually emission
free.* Seems theyre ignoring the fact that vehicles actually produce more global warming emissions than they did 20 years ago. In fact, only 4 nations on earth produce more heat-trapping carbon dioxide that U.S. autos do alone. And even under tighter government standards, autos will still emit 500,000 tons of smog-forming pollutants
and 350,000 tons of toxics linked to cancer* Does that sound virtually emission free to you? Rather than using their lobbyists the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to spread disinformation, automakers should put their talented engineers to work in support of federal and state initiatives that clean out air and protect our kids.
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