last updated January 21, 2016
COMMGRAD 6042:02 Seminar in Communication: Visual Rhetorics
We 5:30-8:20 Lang 346
Catherine H. Palczewski, Ph.D.
office hours, Lang 341: Spring 2015
If these times do not
work, feel free to call (319.273.2714) or email to make an appointment.
- Tues: 2:30-4:30, 7:50-8:20
- Weds: 1:00-3:00, 8:20-8:50
Description: Although scholars for many years confined the study of the available means of persuasion to the study of verbal symbols, within the last few decades, they increasingly have recognized the centrality of visuals to the study of rhetoric. This class will explore visual rhetoric and how audiences interact with those forms. The course will focus on four forms of visual rhetoric:
These four forms do not exhaust the types of visual rhetoric, but I selected them because each illustrates something unique about visual rhetoric. Research on body rhetoric and body argument make clear that verbal messages do not exist free from a material body that creates those messages. Research on the rhetoric of photographs makes clear that images never represent a reality that is free from the influences of symbolic action; instead, photographs direct attention to a particular reality. Images can construct meaning, just like language can. Thus, monuments do more than simply record historic facts; they also direct how people think about those facts from the past, how to act in the present, and what possible futures should be sought. Finally, image events combine visual and verbal rhetorics in order to challenge the image people have of corporations and of protestors, and are structured in such a way as to elicit the attention of media outlets so that they appear on the public screen.
Objectives: Students should be able to
1) describe the rhetorical form and function of photographs, body argument, image events, and memorials,
2) employ a precise vocabulary to analyze what a range of visual rhetorics mean and do, and
3) complete a presentation/publication
quality paper. (Accordingly, extensive time should be spent on the
research and writing process.)
Required texts: (available at
Lester C. Olson, Cara A. Finnegan, Diane S. Hope (eds.), Visual Rhetoric: A Reader in Communication and American Culture (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008).
Lawrence J. Prelli (ed.). Rhetorics of Display (Columbia: University of South Caroline, 2006).
additional readings will have hyperlinks or be located on eLearning
General Information: see this link. This site
includes my late policy, the university accommodation policy, as well
as paper format descriptions. Really, you should check this out.
Acknowledgements: This syllabus and class have been made stronger as a result of conversations with Damien Pfister, E. Cram, Ruth Beerman, Ryan McGeough, Norma Musi, and many others.
Assignments: The total worth of the assignments is 100 points. The individual point value of each assignment is noted in (parenthesis) immediately following the assignment title. Simply doing the base requirements of each assignment will earn you a "C" -- this means you have done acceptable work. To earn a "B" you must go beyond the assignment expectations or fulfill them in an above average way. To earn an "A" you must go far beyond the assignment expectations and fulfill the expectations in an exceptional manner.
Page limits on all assignments will be rigorously enforced. You should spend time finding ways to write more concisely and clearly. If I find your paper long-winded, and you go over the page limit, I will quit reading. (If however, you are brilliant and keep me captivated, I may not notice). And, given the expectations of each of the assignments, you probably will need to use the number of pages required. If, however, you are exceptionally concise, then I may not notice if your paper falls short of the required pages.
A bibliography should be turned in with every assignment. It will not count toward your page limit. On the top of the page, indicate the style (APA, MLA, or Chicago) that you think you are using. The bibliography should correctly and studiously follow whatever form you choose. If serious errors appear in the bibliography and in text citations, students will automatically receive a 25% reduction in their grade. You should prefer to have me spend my time editing your ideas rather than pointing to errors you could have identified on your own by consulting a style manual.
TurnItIn requirement: For all written assignments, students are required to use TurnItIn in order to check they are not plagiarizing. Thus, for an assignment to be considered "turned in", students must have submitted an electronic version to TurnItIn before the assignment's due date and time, and also turn in a paper copy to the professor at the assigned due date and time. I have activated the TurnItIn website in such a way that you are allowed to submit drafts of your paper and receive originality reports. These reports should be used to assist you in making sure you are attributing authorship in an ethical way. The only originality report I will see is the final report on the version of the paper you turn into me. Students can access the TurnItIn website for each assignment via the class's eLearning site. TheTurnItIn link for each assignment is located in the folder labeled turnitin. Please understand: using TurnItIn is only the first step in making sure your are abiding by citation guidelines and providing fair attribution. TurnItIn is only one way to check the originality of your work, and just because your work passes the TurnItIn check does not guarantee you have not plagiarized. You are responsible for using style manuals to make sure your citation format is correct and consistent. Given this process, there will be ZERO TOLERANCE for any citation or paraphrase errors that result in you plagiarizing (presenting others' words as your own). Even a minor infraction will result in a zero on the assignment and a permanent letter placed in your file. A major infraction will result in an F for the class.
Detailed descriptions of all assignments appear on this syllabus. You are free to ask questions in class about the assignments, or contact me outside of class by email or phone. But, please be aware, I will NOT answer any questions about an assignment's expectations in the week before it is due. I recognize that students procrastinate, so, consider this an inducement to begin work early. This means if you have a question, you need to be prepared to ask it in the class sessions during the week before the paper is due. I will not answer assignment expectation questions after that time. However, I will answer specific questions about work you have completed toward the assignment.
|1. Intuitive intelligence assignment
|2.1 Artifact selection
|-- Creative project proposal
|2.2 Literature review
|2.3 Critical analysis
||Peer edit draft due: April 13. Final draft due: May 4, 5:00pm
|3. Peer editing
||February 10, March 23, April 20
|5. Creative project
|4. Paper presentation
||May 4, Wednesday, 5:00-6:50pm
||every class period
Assignment 1) Intuitive intelligence assignment: (10) Visual communication scholar and documentary photographer Rick Williams argues “visual intelligence is the primary intuitive intelligence because the majority of information that the brain processes is visual and most other intelligences also employ significant visual cognition. This does not suggest that visual information cannot be used rationally, but that the initial, primary response to visual cognition is preconscious.” The goal of this assignment is to encourage you to think about how to access these intuitive intelligences in the same way you access cognitive intelligences. How does one come to understand the expressive content of an image? Its overall effect on what one thinks?
Williams offers seven steps of personal impact assessment (PIA) that can be used to assess intuitive intelligence. We will select a common text to which all will apply this approach. However, I also recommend you use this approach when beginning your analysis of your artifact for the progressive paper.
1. Choose and view the image. Look at the image for a few minutes, think about the feelings and reactions it engenders.
2. List primary words that describe key elements of the images in a column on the left side of a blank piece of paper. Leave space between each word.
3. List associative words that are triggered when you think about the primary word. Basically, engage in word association.
4. Select the most significant associative word for each group of words.
5. Relate associative words to an inner part of yourself (your trusting self, your vulnerable self, your strong self, your fantasy self, your feminine self, your athletic self, your racial self, etc.). The point here is that images resonate with a particular part of your self; they call forth inner symbols. So, try and figure out which part of your self resonates with the key associative words. There is no right or wrong answer here. Instead you are looking to identify from where your personal interpretation of and reaction to the image comes.
6. Review the inner symbols that are called forward and if some story arises about your self. The story “will often reveal the inner conflicts, emotions, values, or feelings that are behind your personal, intuitive creation of or attraction to the image.”
7. Write down the story. Consider how it explains your attraction or reaction to the image. In the case of an advertisement, consider how the product advertised may resolve some inner conflict or fulfill some inner need as identified in the story.
You should create some record of each of your steps of this process, and turn in all of them.
Due January 27
Assignment 2) Progressive Paper: (35 total) The assignments outlined below constitute a "progressive paper."
This means each paper you complete is folded into the next paper
after receiving editing from me as well as from your peers.
The first paper becomes the introduction for the 2nd, the 2nd becomes
the first part for the final paper, to which
you will add an additional level of criticism as well as a
conclusion. Page limits include the folded-in papers. You will need
to learn appropriate citation format (APA, MLA, or Chicago), and will be
expected to complete extensive revision and editing of your work as
the paper progresses. If a paper has numerous typographical,
citation, or grammatical errors, I will return it ungraded and the "late clock" will start ticking.
I also suggest, if this project is to become part of your thesis,
that you use thesis format for all assignments, meaning wider left
margin, no right justification, single spaced block quotations, and
appropriate sub-headings. If you do not yet have a thesis pamphlet,
one may found online. (A slight page limit
modification will be made in these instances -- basically, one extra
page for every 5 required).
Good Essay link: All papers should put into practice the skills and techniques learned in basic writing classes. Here is a link to a general checklist to consult when preparing an essay.
Paper 1) Artifact Selection: (5) [5 pages]. Write a 5
page justification for studying your artifact. The justification should
A) an introduction that situates the topic within a
B) background on when, where and to whom the artifact appeared,
C) a description of the creator/s (broadly defined) of the artifact,
D) a description of the artifact,
E) a description of reactions to the artifact (this may include an
assessment of the artifact's effects),
F) an explanation on why the artifact is rhetorically interesting,
G) a preview paragraph that outlines your research questions/preliminary arguments
(this paragraph will transform into your thesis paragraph).
If your artifact is not readily available on line, bring enough clean copies of your artifact to class so that all class
members can have their own copy. Due February 3
Paper 2) Literature review: (10) [10 pages]. This
paper should provide a summary of the theoretical concepts to be used
in your analysis, as well as a review of others' exploration and
application of the theory and of similar artifacts. This section also should include a summary
of others' analyses of your artifact (if any) and lay out how your
analysis expands upon or differs from theirs. You will be expected to conduct additional research and, in all cases, rely on primary theory/method texts for significant
quotations. I want to read YOUR summary of the theory. (Footnotes
indicating others agree with your analysis are fine, but do not
substitute them for your own work). A comprehensive literature review
of communication books and journals is expected. For a general
discussion of what a literature review should do, follow this link to
literature review guidelines. Link to general literature review guidelines. Due March 9
Paper 3) Critical analysis: (20) [20 pages]. This
paper should take the heuristic vocabulary developed in paper 2 to
conduct a detailed critical analysis of the artifact. Peer edit draft due: April 13. Final draft due: May 4. YOU ALSO MUST SEND YOUR PAPERS AS AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT TO CATE AT email@example.com. Your papers will not be considered "turned in" until you send them as an email attachment and until you also turn in all the peer edits done of your paper.
Assignment 3) Peer editing: (10) We will use peer editing as a way to
improve the papers. When peer editing, you are expected to provide
both stylistic and substantive suggestions. You also are expected to proofread the bibliography. Use the sample editing
marks provided in class. Throughout the semester, you
will have 5 opportunities to edit each others' work.
Bring two (2) copies to class: one to turn in to me, and another
to share with a peer editor. For each paper, your peer editor will
change so that you may get as much diverse advice as possible.
Peer editors should return the paper on these dates (edits for paper 1 due February 10,
paper 2 due March 23, paper 3 due April 20. Peer editors can make a
copy of the edited paper to turn into me on the same day they
return it to the author. Remember to sign the paper you edit so
you can get credit for the work.
Note: Draft of final paper for peer edit due: April 13.
Writing only "good job" will earn your zero (0) credit for that peer edit.
Editing guidelines: In order to receive the minimum passing credit for editing, you are expected to provide the following each time you edit:
1. Substantive edits: You are expected to provide a minimum of three (3) substantive suggestions. In order to make a good substantive suggestion, it usually requires at least a paragraph of writing. Given the length of these edits, you may want to type them. These suggestions can include:
a. Additional arguments to be made. You can point to additional evidence that supports their argument, or that modifies their argument in some way.
b. Additional citation on the history of the topic. You can provide the citation for a relevant essay or book, and explain the contribution it makes.
c. Additional variables or concepts that develop the thesis/research questions. You can provide a quotation and page number from the class texts, and explain what is revealed by using the concepts from the texts.
d. Additional scholarly citations. You can provide citations for articles from scholarly journals and books. You should summarize the concept from the scholar, and then explain it.
e. Major organizational changes. You can suggest a major reordering of the paper. This is more than moving the order of two paragraphs. Instead, it would constitute an alternative way to develop the argument.
f. Major differences in interpretation. You may disagree with some interpretive move the author makes. If so, make a case for an alternative interpretation, providing evidence.
2. Stylistic edits: You are expected to make a minimum of ten (10) style edits. They can include:
a. bibliographic citation corrections
b. internal citation corrections
c. typographical error corrections
d. grammar corrections
e. spelling corrections
f. sentence rewordings
Assignment 4) Presentation: (5). During the final exam period
(May 4, Wednesday, 5:00-6:50pm), we will
have a formal presentation of all the papers. These presentations
will be modeled after conference presentations of papers. Students
will have 12-15 minutes to present their papers. Depending on class
size, the length of the presentation may be changed. The presentation
should provide sufficient background on the text and outline the core
argument made in the paper. The student should also provide evidence
to support the main argument. Please remember to bring a copy of your presentation outline so that I can use it to take notes.
Good presentation link: All presentations should put into practice the skills and techniques learned in Oral Communication and/or Public Speaking classes. Here is a link to a general checklist to consult when preparing a presentation.
More helpful hints:
A) Do NOT simply read your paper for your presentation.
The presentation should be formal and professional, but not
scripted. I suggest you speak from a detailed outline (remember to
include quotations from the text in the outline to illustrate the
points you want to make). Please bring two copies of the outline:
one to speak from and one for me. DO practice the presentation to
make sure your outline fits within the time limits. Time limits
will be enforced.
B) Presume the audience is not familiar with your paper, but is
educated about rhetorical criticism. Thus, your presentation
should include: a description of the speech, a description of
historical context, and illustrative quotations from the text.
Your presentation does NOT need to include detailed definitions of
common rhetorical terms (i.e. rhetorical situation, persona,
metaphor). However, do provide sufficient theoretical explanation
of more complicated concepts so that the audience can follow your
C) Do not try to present all the arguments in your paper. You
will not be able to cover everything in just 8 minutes. Instead,
give a brief overview of all your arguments, and then pick one or
two on which to focus the presentation.
Assignment 5) Creative project: (20) You will create an example of visual rhetoric or visual argument in a medium similar to the one being studied in your progressive paper (so, if you are analyzing a photo, create a photo; if you are analyzing a memorial, create a memorial; if you are analyzing a webpage, make a webpage, etc.). A one page proposal for the project is due February 24. The proposal should be a one page document that details the following:
Along with the visual rhetoric created, students will be asked to turn in a 5 page self-reflexive criticism of the artifact, articulating why they made they choices they did in regards to composition, color, framing, spatial organization, light, expressive content, etc. Due April 27.
Assignment 6) Discussion: (20) Graduate seminars at their best are open and free flowing discussions, where you engage each others' hearts and minds. The professor should serve as a muse or a guide, but not a drill sergeant. For a seminar to be a location of invention, and not just regurgitation, you must come ready to talk, to think, to rethink and to engage. Otherwise, seminars can devolve into just being an instance where the professor tells you what to think. Being a good participant does not mean that you always have the answer; it can also mean that you know when to ask the right questions and when to recognize that the answers have already been offered by the class but need to be synthesized. Discussion is a central component of this class insofar as each person's analysis of the readings can be enhanced by others' insights. For a detailed description of the criteria used in the assessment of
discussion, see my discussion link.
TO BE A GOOD PARTICIPANT IN DISCUSSION YOU MUST HAVE COMPLETED ALL THE READINGS.
I will open every class asking if there are questions, but beyond that, I will not review the readings. Instead, I will assume you have completed the reading, taken notes, and are ready to apply and analyze the readings. AnaLouise Keating (Teaching Transformation, 2007, p. 196) provides the following description of "graduate level academic practices" in regards to reading for class:
(1) I expect you to complete all readings by the date listed on the syllabus;
(2) I expect you to read the material thoughtfully and in an engaged manner;
(3) I expect you to read all endnotes and footnotes;
(4) I expect you to read (not skim) all of the required readings--even those you find "boring" or difficult;
(5) I expect you to reread those texts that you have previously read;
(6) I expect you to seek out definitions for words and terminology you don't know . . . try the following websites:
http://www.cios.org/ [added by Cate]
For those who are uncertain about their
ability to participate consistently, I suggest you do the following. For each week, I would like you to prepare a discussion log,
no more than 1 single space typed page for each half, due the next
class period. The log should have 2 halves:
A. Pre-class: a description of how you prepared to
contribute to discussion (key concepts outlined, examples
developed, questions formulated.);
B. Post-class: A self-assessment of your contribution to class
using the five elements outlined in the discussion link. You
should attach a grade to your participation for the class period
You do NOT need to use all the space. Think of the first half as
preparation for discussion, and the second half as a chance to make
an argument about 1) how well you did, and/or 2) how you can
Syllabus: (This syllabus is subject
to change, although that rarely happens.) If changes happen, they
will be in hot pink. The citation format used in this syllabus is MLA.
| 1: January 13: Introduction to Visual Rhetoric
VR Forward (Gronbeck)
VR Introduction (Olson, Finnegan, Hope)
RoD 1 (Prelli)
Azoulay, Ariella. The Civil Contract of Photography. New York: Zone Books, 2008. 9-30. (on eLearning site)
Azoulay, Ariella. Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography. New York: Verso, 2012. 1-27. (on eLearning site)
|2: January 20: Photography
VR 9 (Hariman & Lucaites)
RoD 5 (Hariman & Lucaites)
VR 20 (Cloud)
Zelizer, Barbie. "The Voice of the Visual in Memory." Framing Public Memory. Ed. Kendall R. Phillips. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2004. 157-186. (on eLearning site)
watch Do you see what I see part 4, link
For fun, check out: Lucaites and Hariman blog: No Caption Needed (the early June 2010 entries are particularly good)
|3: January 27: Photography and the ethics of looking and taking
Musi, Norma. (2016). Imagine: Palestinian REFUGEES walking the streets of Tel Aviv. Manuscript. on eLearning
Cram, E. (2012). Angie was Our Sister:” Witnessing the Trans-Formation of Disgust in the Citizenry of Photography. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 98(4), 411-438.
Desai, Chandni. "Shooting Back in the Occupied Territories: An Anti-Colonial Participatory Politics." Curriculum Inquiry 45.1 (2015): 109-128. (on eLearning)
Dauphinée, Elizabeth. "The Politics of the Body in Pain: Reading the Ethics of Imagery." Security Dialogue 38.2 (2007): 139-155. DOI: 10.1177/0967010607078529
Topp, Sarah. "Disturbing Images: Medical Photography of the Bodies of Intersex Individuals." Disturbing Argument. Ed. Catherine H. Palczewski. New York: Routledge, 2015. 117-122. (on eLearning)
Wieskamp, Valerie. (2013, October 29). My Lai, sexual assault and the Black Blouse Girl: Forty-five years later, one of America's most iconic photos hides truth in plain sight. ReadingThePictures.
Parkhill, Chad. "On the Memefication of Aylan Kurdi, and the Power and Ethics of Sharing Photos." Junkee. September 9, 2015. Retrieved from http://junkee.com/
Rieder, Rem. (2015, April 22). What's the allure of graphic images? USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/
Morin, Roc. (2014, May 13). Nazi-era snpashots and the banality of evil. Vice. Retrieved from http://www.vice.com
|Intuitive intelligence assignment due January 27
|4: February 3: Photographic enthymemes
Finnegan, Cara A. The Naturalistic Enthymeme and Visual Argument: Photographic Representation in the 'Skull Controversy'." Argumentation and Advocacy 37.3 (2001): 133-149.
Pfister, Damien, & Carly Woods. "The Unnaturalistic Enthymeme: Figuration, Interpretation, and Critique after Digital Mediation. "Argumentation and Advocacy (in press). (on eLearning)
Young, Stephanie L. "Running like Man, Sitting Like a Girl.: Visual Enthymeme and the Case of Caster Semenya." Women's Studies in Communication 38.3 (2015): 331-350.
watch Boylan, Cynthia. (2015, November 4). Six photographers each have a photo session with the same man - the results will definitely surprise you. Shutterbug. (Read discussion too).
|Paper 1 Due February 3
|5: February 10: Visual ideographs and argument . . . and other fun stuff
VR 6 (Edwards & Winkler)
Palczewski, Catherine Helen. "The Male Madonna and the Feminine Uncle Sam: Visual Argument, Icons, and Ideographs in 1909 Anti-Woman Suffrage Postcards." Quarterly Journal of Speech 91.4 (November 2005): 365-294. Accessible with Ingenta.
Hahner, Leslie. "The Riot Kiss: Framing Memes as Visual Argument." Argumentation and Advocacy, 49, 151-166. On eLearning.
Ohl, Jessy J. (2016). Nothing to See or Fear: Light War and the Boring Visual
Rhetoric of U.S. Drone Imagery. Quarterly Journal of Speech, pre-published online. On eLearning.
|Peer edits of paper 1 due February 10
6: February 17: Body Argument
A Mcgeough covers
DeLuca, Kevin Michael. "Unruly Arguments: The Body Rhetoric of
Earthfirst!, Act Up, and Queer Nation." Argumentation and
Advocacy 36 (Summer 1999): 9-21. (on eLearning site)
VR 10 (Brouwer)
RoD 16 (Chao)
McGeough, Ryan Erik, & McGeough, Danielle Dick. (2015). In Catherine Helen Palczewski (Ed.), Disturbing argument (pp. 99-104). New York: Routledge.
|7: February 24: Body Argument
Brouwer, Daniel C., and Linda Diane Horwitz. "The Cultural Politics of Progenic Auschwitz Tattoos: 157622, A-15510, 4559, . . . ." Quarterly Journal of Speech 101.3 (2015): 534-558. (also on eLearning)
RoD 15 (Erni)
VR 4 (Morris and Sloop)
|Creative project proposal due February 24
| 8: March 2: Body argument
VR 12 (Demo)
RoD 11 (Hauser)
RoD 12 (Blitefield)
|9: March 9: Image events
VR 13 (Harold & DeLuca)
Johnson, Davi. "Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 Birmingham Campaign as Image Event." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10.1 (Spring 2007): 1-25. DOI: 10.1353/rap.2007.0023
|Paper 2 due March 9
|10: March 16
|11: March 23: Image events
VR 18 (Erickson)
RoD 3 (Farrell)
Brunner, Elizabeth, & DeLuca, Kevin. The argumentative force of image networks: Greenpeace’s panmediated global Detox campaign. Argumentation and Advocacy (in press). (on eLearning)
|Peer edits of paper 2 due March 23
|12: March 30: Image events
VR 19 (Parry-Giles)
DeLuca, Kevin Michael, and Jennifer Peeples. "From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the 'Violence' of Seattle." Critical Studies in Media Communication 19.2 (2002): 125+. Academic OneFile. Web.
Walker, Rebecca A. "Fill/Flash/Memory: A History of Flash Mobs." Text and Performance Quarterly 33.2 (2013): 115-132.
|13: April 6: Memorials
Dickinson, Greg, Carole Blair, and Brian L. Ott. Places of Public Memory. Tuscaloosa, U of Alabama P, 2010. 1-54.
VR 7 (Blair & Michel)
Blair, Carole, Marsha S. Jeppeson and Enrico Pucci, Jr. "Public Memorializing in Postmodernity: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial as Prototype." Quarterly Journal of Speech 77.3 (August 1991): 263-288. (on eLearning site)
If you have already read the Vietnam Veterans Memorial essay, then read . . .
Zagacki, Kenneth S., and Gallagher, Victoria J. "Rhetoric and Materiality in the Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art." Quarterly Journal of Speech 95.2 (2009): 171-191.
|14: April 13: Memorials
Laverne Cox, 7:30 GPPAC???
RoD 6 (Halloran & Clark)
VR 8 (Biesecker)
Ott, Brian L., Aoki, Eric, & Dickinson, Greg. "Ways of (Not) Seeing Guns: Presence and Absence at the Cody Firearms Museum." Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies 8.3 (2011): 215-239.
|Draft of final paper due for peer editing.
|15: April 20: Memorials
RoD 8 (Gallagher)
RoD 10 (Morris)
McGeough, Ryan, Catherine H. Palczewski, and Lake, Randall. Oppositional memory practices: U.S. Memorial spaces as arguments over public memory. Argumentation and Advocacy 51.4 (2015): 231-254. (on eLearning)
|Peer edits of paper 2 due April 20
| 16: April 27: Creative projects
Olson, Lester C. "Intellectual and Conceptual Resources for Visual Rhetoric: A re-examination of Scholarhsip Since 1950." Review of Communication 7.1 (2007): 1-20. (on eLearning)
|Creative projects due April 27
|17: May 4, Wednesday, 5:00-6:50pm
Final paper due
Presentations of final paper