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“...meaning is not an innate quality of visual forms: it is a matter of relationships” between visual and verbal objects, artifacts, and materials”. according to Ehses and Lupton, rhetoric is…. faculty in selecting among and applying the available means of persuasion (Aristotle)

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According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“...meaning is not an innate quality of visual forms: it is a matter of relationships” between visual and verbal objects, artifacts, and materials”

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

according to Ehses and Lupton, rhetoric is…

  • faculty in selecting among and applying the available means of persuasion (Aristotle)

  • a holistic approach to communication

  • a set of tools to aid people in being successful orators (historically)

  • a set of tools to aid people in being successful communicators—orally, textually, and visually (today)

Anne wysocki

Anne Wysocki

“If rhetoric, to turn our eyes all the way back to Aristotle, is the use of the available means of persuasion to achieve particular ends, then whenever the means of persuasion include visual strategies, there is visual rhetoric at work”

Threads issues

threads & issues

  • dominance of the verbal/textual  why our culture places textual literacies and print alphabets as higher priority than visual literacies and graphical communication

  • downplay of the visual  visual information relegated to “decoration” status; visual information not truly considered “content”; “the less-important and less-intellectual sidekicks of alphabetic texts” (Selfe)

  • interplay of the verbal/textual and the visual  how words and images work together

  • role of visuals in tandem with new technologies  what happens when “anyone” can publish a web page? when different people have access to software to manipulate images?

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“...we redeploy the lore and paradigms that we have inherited—the advice, warnings, or ways of knowing that the authorities of print culture have given us—whether or not these are entirely appropriate for and ultimately beneficial to writing students of the twenty-first century” (Westbrook).

“Teachers continue to privilege alphabetic literacy over visual literacy… because they have already invested so heavily in writing, writing instruction and writing programs” (Selfe)

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

Beyond Words

Seeing and Writing 2

Frames of Mind

Picturing Texts

Practices of Looking

Ways of Reading Words and Images

Everything's an Argument

Reading Culture

Writing in a Visual Age

Designing Writing

“...Of these 2,620 prompts, only 143, or roughly 5 percent, require students to engage in multimedia or visual production...” (Westbrook).

Cindy selfe

Cindy Selfe

“By visual literacy, then, I will refer to the ability to read, understand, value, and learn from visual materials (still photographs, videos, films, animations, still images, pictures, drawings, graphics)—especially as these are combined to create a text—as well as the ability to create, combine, and use visual elements (e.g., colors, forms, lines, images) and messages for the purposes of communicating.... visual literacy (or literacies), like all literacies, are both historically and culturally situated, constructed, and valued” (Cindy Selfe).

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“If writers and graphic designers are to create documents that take readers seriously, they will need a more detailed view of readers than they have now—a view which allows them to imagine readers other than themselves actively engaging with words and pictures” (Schriver).

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“No longer constrained to static and linear formats, document designers can now employ hypertext technologies to design ‘information landscapes’ for practical use. And with the growing affordability of integrating text, animated images, and digital sound… most consumers will get hands-on experience with documents that have a decidedly different look and feel than those they grew up with” (Schriver).

Hanno ehses ellen lupton

Hanno Ehses & Ellen Lupton

“...meaning is not an innate quality of visual forms: it is a matter of relationships” between visual and verbal objects, artifacts, and materials”

Images without text are open to a variety of meanings, yet text only narrows that margin slightly

Mary hocks michelle kendrick

Mary Hocks & Michelle Kendrick

“The relationships among word and image, verbal texts and visual texts, ‘visual culture’ and ‘print culture’ are interpenetrating, dialogic relationships. The contradictions, overlaps, and paradoxes inherent in the rhetorical use and interpenetration of words and images have been with us since the earliest verbal and visual communication systems…”

W j t mitchell

W. J. T. Mitchell

“One of the crucial mediations that occurs in the history of cultural forms is the interaction between verbal and pictorial modes of representation. We rarely train scholars, however, to be sensitive to this crucial point of conflict, influence, and mediation and insist on separating the study of texts and images from one another…”

David blakesley and collin brooke

David Blakesley and Collin Brooke

“We might… . see visuality and textuality not as isolated phenomena, but as sharing at a deeper level some common roots in perceptual and linguistic processes... Perhaps we should spend our time developing such a dialectical model, one in which words and images are inseparably bound in an act of symbolic interpretation and action.…”

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“We have served witness to the conflation of word and image in the astounding development of media technologies in the late twentieth century. By many measures, we have rediscovered the visual nature of rhetoric. As students and teachers adapt to these new technologies and venues for reading and writing, it will be important to understand the ways that words and images function rhetorically and together in the various forms of media and literature that grab our attention and so delicately direct the intention.”

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“As we analyze and compose texts, then, I want us to be aware not only of the particular visual strategies that a composer chooses when constructing texts aimed at persuading audiences toward specific ends; I want us also to be aware of how the strategies that we choose reinforce (and can perhaps help us be aware of and question) values, habits, and structures of our places and times” (Wysocki).

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“Our belief that meaning can exist apart from the material embodiment of printed timetables, pages in bound books, or screens on computer monitors is woven into a belief that what we think has nothing to do with our messy, gendered, raced, aging, nationalized, digesting bodies” (Wysocki).

Carolyn handa

Carolyn Handa

“Rhetoric’s association with the written word is arbitrary, a by-product of print culture rather than the epistemological limits of rhetoric itself….

Preparing students to communicate in the digital world using a full range of rhetorical skills will enable them to analyze and critique both the technological tools and the multimodal texts produced with those tools” (Visual Rhetoric for a Digital World).

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“Living in the twenty-first century, we cannot help but introduce multitudes of media to composition students….

…incorporating digital elements into writing—especially in the form of Web pages and multimedia projects—demandsthat we draw on our knowledge of rhetoric perhaps even more than our knowledge of HTML, design issues, or graphics software”.

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“By adding a focus on visual literacy to our existing focus on alphabetic literacy, we may not only learn to pay more serious attention to the ways in which students are now ordering and making sense of the world through the production and consumption of visual images, but we may also extend the usefulness of composition studies in a changing world” (Selfe)

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is


On Viewing and Visually Representing as Forms of Literacy (1996)

To participate in a global society, we continue to extend our ways of communicating. Viewing and visually representing (defined in the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts) are a part of our growing consciousness of how people gather and share information. Teachers and students need to expand their appreciation of the power of print and nonprint texts. Teachers should guide students in constructing meaning through creating and viewing nonprint texts.

Jay david bolter

Jay David Bolter

“If our definition of text expands to include electronic communication, then we will have to give graphics a prominent place in that definition. We will have to reconsider the relation between words and images in communication and in education.”

Mary hocks

Mary Hocks

“Visual rhetoric, or visual strategies used for meaning and persuasion, is hardly new, but its importance has been amplified by the visual and interactive nature of native hypertext and multimedia writing...

Since the appearance of hypertext and other interactive new media, these digital writing environments make it difficult to separate words from visuals or privilege one over the other...”

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is

“…all writing is hybrid

—it is at once verbal, spatial, and visual… Recognizing the hybrid literacies our students now bring to our classrooms, we need a better understanding of the increasingly visual and interactive rhetorical features of digital documents” (Hocks, pp. 630–631).

Sean d williams

Sean D. Williams

“As the World Wide Web and other visual media gain prominence in students’ lives, we, as teachers of composition, have to re-evaluate our strict adherence to the verbal medium. If our classrooms focus on a single mode of representation—the verbal—then the concurrent implication is that only one voice deserves to be heard. In such a classroom, students will not be able to recognize that verbal forms and visual forms—or better yet their combination—carry an equal degree of complexity, representative richness, and rhetorical power. Basing composition almost exclusively on verbal instruction counters the very nature of literacy education, because our current verbal-based education system produces illiterates in our highly visual and multimodal modern society.”

Anne frances wysocki

Anne Frances Wysocki

  • attitudes toward the visual aspects of texts change over time; the visual aspects of text are (therefore) to be understood…. in terms of social context

  • all page- and screen-based texts are (therefore) visual and their visual elements and arrangements can be analyzed

  • the visual presentation of a page or screen gives you an immediate sense of its genre

  • the visual elements and arrangements of a text perform persuasive work

  • composing a visual text (thus) involves choosing strategies for shaping what is on a page or screen to direct a reader/viewer/browser's attentions, within the context of other texts

Anne wysocki1

Anne Wysocki

  • “Encourage students to see the larger visual context in which the rhetoric of individual visual texts works.”

  • “Help students understand that the visual aspects of texts are rhetorical, that is, that they are designed by people who choose among different possible strategies to achieve different possible ends, within the context of cultural expectation and practice.”

  • “Teach visual strategies, terminology, and guidelines in context.”

  • “Encourage students to use technologies awarely as they compose arguments so that they can develop a wide understanding and repertoire of—and competence with—rhetorical strategies.”

  • “Encourage students to make arguments that different from what we have become accustomed to seeing”

According to ehses and lupton rhetoric is


  • writing and design are inherently connected  form cannot be separated from function

  • writing, today, means more than just words on the page or screen

  • as writers, we have to be aware of the multiple meaning-making tools available

  • writing, today, means designing and architecting information

  • designing useful, readable, audience-appropriate documents requires critical, thoughtful, and careful rhetorical consideration

Visual rhetoric

visual rhetoric

vi•su•al rhet•o•ric

1: a branch of rhetoric that applies methods of rhetorical criticism to the use of visuals; an exploration of how visuals act rhetorically upon viewers and audiences—by analyzing audience, purpose, situation, context, and more

2: a type or mode of communication with its own distinct grammars and forms;

3: the effective and critical analysis of visuals as a means of communication or persuasion;

4: the effective and critical use or production of visuals as a means of communication or persuasion

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