Creating Visual and Oral Arguments Harrison High School AP Language
Recognizing Visual Argument • First, you need to decide whether you are looking at or listening to an argument. Discover this by asking the following: • Is the visual material about an issue that has not been resolved or settled? • Does this issue potentially inspire two or more different views? • If your answer to both these questions was yes, then attempt to describe the issue and the perspective being developed.
Analyze the Author’s Purpose • Recognizing different purposes in argument will help you evaluate your sources. Some texts are obviously intended as argument, and others conceal their argumentative purpose, making it more difficult to recognize.
Author’s Purpose… • Obvious argument: The author’s purpose is clearly to take a position and to change minds or to convince others. • Extremist Argument: Authors who hold fast to prejudiced beliefs and stereotypes about various people, causes, or special projects sometimes rely on emotional language to appeal to specific audiences. • Hidden Argument: Some texts seem to be written to inform but, on closer reading, actually favor one position over other (not in an obvious way).
Author’s Purpose… • Unconscious argument: Some authors who try to write objectively are influenced unconsciously by strong personal opinions, and the result is an unconscious intent to change people’s minds. • Exploratory Argument: the author lays out and explains three or more of the major positions on a controversial issue. • Objective Reporting: The author may report facts and ideas that everyone would accept without controversy.
Why is Visual Argument Convincing? • Visual Argument is immediate and tangible and pulls you into the picture. It communicates fast and evokes a rich, dense, and immediate response from a viewer. • The photograph in the next slide has been characterized as the most famous picture from the Vietnam War. An officer of the South Vietnam army is shooting a suspected member of the Vietcong, and the photographer has captured the moment when the bullet enters this man’s head and kills him.
The previous picture provoked strong antiwar arguments in its time, and it continues to invite responses to issues associated with war. • What issue does it raise with you? • What position do you take on the issue? • Visual Argument often establishes common ground and invites viewer identification.
Dorothy Courts.. • The previous picture is of an African American girl who enrolled in a newly desegregated high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, during the civil rights movement. • Dorothy is being taunted by white students in the background who wanted to keep their school segregated. • With whom do you identify and experience the greatest sense of “common ground”? • What issue does the picture raise for you?
Visual Argument… • Visual argument is immediate and tangible and pulls you into the picture… • Visual argument often establishes common ground and invites viewer identification… • Visual argument often evokes an emotional response… • Visual argument often relies on juxtaposition of materials from radically different categories.. • Visual argument often employs icons to prompt an immediate response from a viewer… • Visual argument often employs symbols… • Visual argument is selective… • Visual argument invites unique interpretations from viewers…
Visual Argument… Figurative Analogies: these compare items from two different categories, as in metaphor, only the points of comparison in a figurative analogy are usually spelled out in more detail than they are in a metaphor. Many figurative analogies appeal to the emotions rather than to reason. They are effective as logical proof only when they are used to identify real qualities that are shared by both items and that can then be applied to help prove the claim logically.
Context: This ad appeared in Time magazine. For Discussion: • How does the author of the ad create common ground between the company and the family? • With whom do you identify in the picture? • How is juxtaposition used in the picture, and what is the result? • How is selectivity used: what is included and what is left out? • What is the claim for the overall ad and for the picture alone? • How are ethos, logos, and pathos used in this ad?
Quick writing activity… • What is the purpose of this ad? • What other picture might State Farm have used to communicate the claim in the ad and accomplish the same purpose? • How would you compare the effectiveness of another picture with that of the woman and her children?
Context: This photo of astronaut Buzz Aldrin was taken on July 20, 1969, by his fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong. It records the first successful moon landing.
Discuss: • What is the effect of the juxtaposition of the man, the space suit, and the lunar landscape in this photograph? • What new links and associations are created as a result? • How would people in 1969 have stated the claim implied by this picture? How would you state its claim today? • What is the evidence? • What are the warrants?
Discuss: • To what extent do you identify with Buzz Aldrin in this photo, and how does this identification influence the way you state your claim? • What effect does the reflection of Armstrong and the moon-landing craft in Aldrin’s visor have on the argument?
Context: This photo accompanies an article from Newsweek magazine titled Bringing Up Adultolescents. Its aim is to establish the fact that “millions of Americans in their 20s and 30s are still supported by their parents.”
Do you identify with anyone in this picture? • With whom, and why? • Identify the icons that elicit immediate responses in this picture, and comment on their effects. • What is the claim? • What details in the picture support the claim? • How would you state the warrants? Comment on the following quotation from the essay that accompanies this photograph: “It’s hard to feel like a Master of the Universe when you’re sleeping in your old twin bed.”
Context: • The 1980 photograph, titled Hands, shows the hands of a Ugandan child and a missionary. • How is juxtaposition used in the photograph? • What is the result of this juxtaposition? • What associations are created by the picture? • What is included? • What is left out? • What is the effect?
How can you use visual argument to support your research? • Think about your issue. • What images are associated with the issue? • How can you manipulate the images to prove your point?