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FLEMING

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FLEMING

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  1. FLEMING • Increasingly people want to talk about “visual argument,” “visual rhetoric,” etc. • Fleming isn’t sure images alone can be arguments.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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”

  5. 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:

  6. Rhetoric (which includes document design, visual persuasion, technical communication, visual tropes) • Communication studies • Cultural Studies • Semiotics • Anthropology • Film and media studies

  7. Some terms for the analysis of visual texts • Formal AnalysisExamples: 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 VocabularyAudience, 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.

  8. Rhetoric & Figural languageVisual 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, etcLiterary & Cultural StudiesPoint of view, intertextuality, emplotment, character, characterization, narrative, focus, silence/absence, identity, ideology, cultural myth, subject position, identification, disidentification, etc.

  9. 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?)

  10. Argument by association? • Elizabeth Dole TV Ad - Promises http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuS342L22QI • CNN's Campbell Brown discusses Elizabeth Dole’s ‘Godless’ ad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMzX_EAfwyc&feature=related

  11. ARGUMENT BY ASSOCIATION • The famous “daisy ad” by Johnson, which works by association, innuendo and implication: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKs-bTL-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?

  12. 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/

  13. 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 adhttp://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Chevy_Tahoe_2007_Adhttp://www.it-is-law.com/tahoe/tahoe.swf (Taho-liban) • Chevy Ad remixed with environmental criticism

  14. 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."

  15. Write two scripts to encourage interpretations that are as different as possible

  16. Image 2 • What are the signs here? 1. 2.

  17. “If you become aware of an unusual or suspicious release of an unknown substance nearby, it doesn’t 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.” ready.gov claims these images communicate:

  18. 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

  19. 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?)

  20. Rhetorical Interpretation and Analysis Traditional categories: • Audience • Context • Purpose • Genre • Rhetorical strategies • Arrangement, style, delivery • Claim, warrant, evidence, rebuttal • ethos, pathos, logos • Assumptions, implications, counterexamples • Etc.

  21. Audience • 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. • Mulvey’s 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?

  22. 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)

  23. What do you notice about these movie posters from the 1950s?

  24. 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.

  25. When ads used a lot of logos

  26. Today’s ads often use different appeals

  27. WE CAN READ MATERIAL CULTURE RHETORICALLY • “By reading…we 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 clues…Reading 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.

  28. Purpose What is the text trying to do/achieve? • Persuade? • Inform? • Challenge • Resist • Document • Record • Parody • Entertain • Provoke • Etc.

  29. 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?

  30. Can you think of examples of rhetorical strategies in visual texts you’ve seen?

  31. Rhetoric reveals itself not just in framing, point of view, lighting, etc., but in image selection. Selection

  32. Visual argument in everyday television viewing

  33. Visual Tropes

  34. Metonymy • Metonymy: works by associating meaning where a part stands for the whole • "I’ve 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 anothersimilar thing • EXAMPLE – picture of Eiffel tower meant to convey the idea of Paris

  35. 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.

  36. Drink “provokes the desire but takes away the performance.” William Shakespeare

  37. Try to work out how the metaphors below reveal basic cultural assumptions 1. Spatial MetaphorsThe 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 indefensible…I attacked the weak points in his argument…She couldn’t counter my criticisms…his criticisms were on target…she won the argument…his position is strong…his argument lacked support3. Knowledge & UnderstandingI see what you are saying (cf. “savoir” in French). She showed great insight. My view of this issue is…what 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 “I’m 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.

  38. 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

  39. Willie Wiredhand, the  mascot of the American rural electric movement. personification

  40. Analogy

  41. Visual Argument • Argument by association (analogy?)

  42. 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”

  43. ARGUMENT BY ASSOCIATION • The famous “daisy ad” by Johnson, which works by association, innuendo and implication: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKs-bTL-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?

  44. Images & Cultural/Rhetorical Analysis • What information do images provide us about culture? • How can we use images to engage in rhetorical and cultural analysis?