An introduction to the nature of visual rhetoric
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An Introduction to the Nature of Visual Rhetoric Presentation adapted from The Informed Argument; Brief Sixth Edition , Robert Yagelski & Robert Miller. Thomson/Wadsworth: 2004. Journal (5 minutes):

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An introduction to the nature of visual rhetoric l.jpg
An Introduction to the Nature of Visual Rhetoric

  • Presentation adapted from The Informed Argument; Brief Sixth Edition, Robert Yagelski & Robert Miller. Thomson/Wadsworth: 2004.

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Journal (5 minutes):

What text or caption would you place with this image? How does this picture appeal to each: logos, pathos, and ethos?

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Visual Rhetoric

  • Images are texts.

  • Images have the power to affect us.

  • We are constantly exposed to images and interpret them daily.

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Visual Rhetoric

  • This picture was taken as Bush was trying to generate support for his proposed Department of Homeland Security in 2002.

  • What does such a photograph communicate about President Bush?

  • What ideas does Mt. Rushmore evoke?

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Visual Rhetoric

  • Not all visual rhetoric is obvious.

  • Visual effects can also be subtle and complex

What ideas does this company wish to associate with their product?

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Visual Rhetoric

  • What ideas are presented in this ad?

  • What associations does the company want you to make with their product?

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Visual Rhetoric

  • How this image different from the Kool ad? How is it the same? What is the relationship between the product and the image in each ad?

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Argument & Persuasion

Effects in visual media can be categorized in the same way as arguments in print media.

Visual elements used in argumentation can:

  • appeal to our emotions,

  • they can make logical appeals, and

  • they can address character.

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Argument Versus Persuasion

  • The difference between argument or persuasion:

  • Argument seeks to clarify thought in an effort to address an issue or solve a problem (ideally aspiring to truth).

  • The persuasive appeal of an ad ultimately is to compel you to a specific action.

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Design & Color

The manner in which size, style, color, and

placements of text and images are used in visual

rhetoric contributes to the effect of the design.

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  • We associate certain colors or combinations of colors with cultural values. For example, red white & blue evoke a sense of patriotism or “home” in most Americans.

  • Likewise, we associate colors and color schemes with certain brands or organizations

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This poster for the French State (Etat) Railways was printed in France in 1932 when Western economies were in deep depression and facism was on the rise in Europe. Many people were looking for strength and stability in uncertain times. What does this design seem to be saying?

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Discussion Activity (15min)

  • Open the class website

  • Read the instructions for Online For a

  • Login to your forum group

    4. Online, with your group discuss the images and questions. Be prepared to share your findings with the rest of the class

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Forum I

  • This poster was distributed by the US government during WWII. Its messages of support for the war is obvious, but what specific arguments do these posters make?

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Forum II

Landscape painting of the 19th C. Hudson Valley

School are sometimes described as making a case for

environmental conservation. How does this painting by

F.E. Church make a case for a certain view of nature?

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Forum III

What associations

does Nike want you

to make with their


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Forum IV

According to Shaheen’s

essay, how have our

depictions of Arabs and

Arab Americans changed

since 9/11? What are the

effects of these two

images? What needs to

be done to move beyond


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Forum V

How are masculinity

and femininity

portrayed in this

classic movie poster?

Is there a difference in

the way genders are

portrayed in

contemporary film?