Brooke Notes 2/6/17

Title: Barry, Lynda. Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor

Book Citation: Barry, Lynda. Syllabus. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2014. 101-200. Print

Summary: In the last hundred pages of Lynda Barry’s Syllabus, there are several themes represented such as time, awareness, focus, panel picturing, and the intersections of writing and the visual. In the exercise’s Barry has presents, she emphasizes how the daily practice of drawing and writing regains our attention span (115) which for many of us is typically lost when we stop drawing altogether after our adolescent years. Barry introduces the question on what is looking vs gazing (127) and attention vs awareness (143) which ties into her next discussion on time. She notes that when drawing comics, it can be quite hard to pinpoint the exact time it takes to draw an image. This discussion on time brings into question our awareness and feelings when completing a task (131) and how oftentimes we have no recollection of the thought process from beginning to end when we are focused on composing.

Keywords: Panel comics, picturing, creativity, dreaming awake, awareness, attention

Citations: McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. New Haven: Yale UP, 2009. Print.

Chaon, Dan. Stay Awake: Stories. New York: Ballantine, 2012. Print.

Quotations:  “Both writing and drawing lean on a certain kind of picturing—not the kind that is already finished in your head and just needs to be put to words or reproduced on paper- it’s a kind of picturing that is formed by our own activity, one line suggesting the next” (136).

“On my mind is the question raised by some of my students about what things are worth drawing and writing about – I don’t believe thinking can give you the answer to this, though it feels like it can long enough to stop us from trying” (162).

Question: One of the concepts that Lynda Barry emphasizes in  Syllabus is that an image is not what anyone thinks about them (126) so there should be no need to worry if you think your artwork is terrible or not. Shifting this idea to the professional world, how might a design produced online for a website or layout be critiqued? Do the standards change when producing for the business world vs. university? If yes, how can students prepare for the drastic change of criticism and expectation if the standard  is different in the classroom?

Bibliography 2/6

Ball, C. E. (2012). Assessing Scholarly Multimedia: A Rhetorical Genre Studies Approach. Technical Communication Quarterly,21(1), 61-77. doi:10.1080/10572252.2012.626390

This article was found while looking for works that cite Anne Wysocki’s “Awaywithwords.” The article focuses on a teacher’s methods of using multimedia in assignments for her writing class. The author also gives criteria for how these projects should be assessed.

Brunetti, I. (2011). Cartooning: philosophy and practice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

This book is cited in Lynda Barry’s Syllabus. She uses Brunetti’s practices in the classroom and assigns this text for her class to read. This text presents itself as a guide to cartoon making and storytelling, giving exercises and assignments.

Groppel-Wegener, A. (2016). Groppel-Wegener Writing Essays by Pictures – Redrawing the textbook. Journal of Pedagogic Development, 6(3), 65-69. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from

This source was found while looking for works that cite Lynda Barry’s Syllabus on Google Scholar. The article examines the textbook as an academic genre, which is argued to be “outmoded”. It suggests that learning resources should go beyond just the textbook and expresses the importance of image use in communication.

Mendonça, P. (2016). Graphic facilitation, sketchnoting, journalism and ‘The Doodle Revolution’: New dimensions in comics scholarship. Studies in Comics,7(1), 127-152. doi:10.1386/stic.7.1.127_1

This source was found while looking for works that cite Lynda Barry’s Syllabus on Google Scholar. Mendonca discusses the effect of words and images combine to, “represent the content  of an event, discussion or process.”  The article explains that drawing is crucial for understanding, even if it is considered poor. Noted that this method is used in the professional field but should be pushed in communities and organizations.

Newcomb, M. (2012). Sustainability as a Design Principle for Composition: Situational Creativity as a Habit of Mind. College Composition and Communication,63(4), 593-615. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from

This article was found while looking for works that cite Anne Wysocki’s “Awaywithwords.” Newcomb argues that “Design is a rhetorical activity that requires creative thinking in response to difficult situations.” He explains that sustainable design can be a tool for writing that changes the way people think while writing and promotes creativity.

Reading Question for 2/6

Barry struck me with her observance of point of view in the house fire pictures. She says, “There is also the matter of where the viewer is standing: point of view. All of these things show up without effort–they are already in us” (104). I continuously noticed how she incorporated point of view into all of her students’ assignments (letters, fiction, house fire sketches). Barry recognizes that she cannot necessarily instruct them to view their work in a certain way because viewpoint is innate.

If it is constructed, how does one construct their viewpoint? Is it different between drawing and writing? [GMK]

Big Ideas (2/6)

As with water, constraints of communication materials are often social and historical (Wysocki 56);

What is unavailable in these images? How does a social and historical context inform them? What are we asking of the audience when presenting them? Sometimes an image can be a record of a precise moment in history, yet without knowledge of that history, it loses much of its significance. Even a computer generated logo has the ability to engage in a complex discussion of the social. But as with words, a language must be shared among the audience in order to elicit the desired response.

An image calls for words, and words produce images; they cannot be separated.

Brooke Notes (2/6)

awaywithwords: On the possibilities in unavailable designs

Wysocki, A. F. (2005). awaywithwords: On the possibilities in unavailable designs. Computers and Composition, 22, 55-62.


  • Affordances
  • Image
  • Space
  • Visual Rhetoric
  • Word

In her article, Wysocki begins with the assumption that words and images are not necessarily bound logically and respectively with space and time. To frame this, she uses the example of water, stating that our early ancestors would not use water to attack a mammoth. This view of water, however, changes as we acquire the technology to pressurize and, by extension, acquire the capacity to weaponize water. Wysocki utilizes the varied use of water “as an analogy for the materials we use in building communications” (56). She then invokes Gunther Kress’ notion that we must consider social and cultural context, purpose, audience, along with communication strategy and materials when designing communication materials, but pushes this idea further by examining the material constraints, why they are constraints, and why those particular constraints are imposed.

The first constraint Wysocki addresses is the use of space between words, which became prevalent when texts moved from social contexts to individual arenas. She references Paul Saenger’s idea that “how we use space on pages affects how we read and understand,” and, further, affects “how we understand what words, texts, and reading are” (57). Additionally, Wysocki references Susan Howe’s proposal that the act of editing texts that restricts punctuation and unconventional spacing mirrors an American desire to tame wilderness, be that wilderness be specific or metaphoric. This notion can also be applied to space in paper margins or the design of a book layout. Wysoki claims, in order to help students question these ideas about how we have come to understand the use of words and space, the conventions of which are largely unquestioned.

Wysocki returns to Kress’ discussion, pointing out that, by accepting his position of word governance as temporal and sequential, it is no surprise that he takes images as holding opposing qualities from words – that of spatial and simultaneous logic. Wysocki argues this point by explaining W.J.T. Mitchell’s position that “we should acknowledge that when we work with what is on pages or other surfaces, alphabetic text is always part of what must be visually arranged “ (58). Additionally, Wysocki posits that images exceed logics of space and can evoke a sense of time – both in the sense that particular elements in an image are arranged to invite ordering, and in the sense that “temporal strategies of composition are very much present even in images that we can apparently perceive all at once” (58). Regardless, Wysocki believes that we cannot simply impose Kress’ definition of “image” to “word,” as this would restrain it to the very constraints we are questioning.

To sum up the paper, Wysocki juxtaposes two medias – that of a tattoo and that of a film – to explain how their uses of time and space (and by extension, their social functions and interpretations), are quite different. Thus, to use a term, such as “image,” to classify objects functioning “in opposition to word is thus either to make an arbitrary cut into the world of designed visual objects or to try to encompass a class so large the encompassing term loses function” (59). Wysocki ends by a call to action – encouraging her readers to see beyond the commonly accepted constraints of “words” and “images” – to try new practices and conventions and to expand what is possible in communication materials.

Works Cited
Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, cyborgs, and Women: The reinvention of nature.   New York: Routledge.

Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London: Routledge.

The New London Group. (2000). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. In Bill Cope & Mary Kalantzis (Eds.), Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures (9-37). London: Routledge.


  • “If how we conceive of water is inseparable from place and time, how can our communication materials, for which we can make no similar claim to naturalness as we can with water, be otherwise?” (56)
  • “If we are to help people in our classes learn how to compose texts that function as they hope, they need consider how they use the spaces and not just one time that can be shaped on pages. They also need to question how they have come to understand the spaces of pages so that they can, if need be, use different spaces, potentially powerful spaces that… have been rendered unavailable by naturalized, unquestioned practice.” (57)
  • “If human practices do entwine, as I have been arguing, to the extent that the spacing of lettershapes on a piece of paper reflects and helps continue unquestioned restrictions on behavior or that a habit of understanding words and images as opposites reflects and helps continue beliefs about relations between men and women, then it is possible that trying new spaces on pages or exploring the visuality of alphabetic text can be seeds for changes in such practices and beliefs. But we can only do this if we look beyond what appear to be constraints.” (59)


  • It seems as though Wysocki directs her attention ONLY to the visual aspects of any of her given examples and it makes me wonder – in some mediums, such as film, can we study the “visual” separate from other sensory inputs, such as auditory, tactile (specifically eating popcorn when going to a movie), and olfaction (the “smells” of the movie theatre experience), etc.?
  • At what point would not following conventions – or breaking through constraints – be counterproductive to getting the idea or message across to our audience?Does the audience first need to accept that a constraint need be broken?
  • Are there any scholars who have begun tackling the use of visuals, space, and time in the world of virtual reality?

Reading Questions 2/6

In her article, Wysocki refers to different types of materials that can be used in building communication and one of them is using space, “The Spaces of pages can also articulate with our larger sense of the spaces within which we read” (57). “We speaks of the various kinds of space we can use shape alphabetic text, then we speak of the tops and bottoms of pages, and of the left and right, and the placement of textual elements” (57). She emphasizes on the arrangement of alphabetic text in sending powerful messages by relying on the logic of space. She also called the SPACE between words as “Potentially Powerful Spaces”. The question is what should be categorized as powerful spaces and Not powerful spaces?  “In this social and cultural environment, with these demands for communication of these materials, for that audience, with these resources, and given these interests of mine, what is the design which best meets these requirements?” (56).  Is the best design to encourage rhetorical focus in our teaching rooted to the culture of our society?

I saw this poster at work and was wondering if the artist has used any potential powerful spaces to send his/her message!

Reading Questions: 2/6

“By focusing on the human shaping of material, and on the ties of material to human practices, we might be in better positions to ask after the consequences not only of how we use water but also of how we use paper, ink, and pixels to shape—for better or worse—the actions of others.” (Wysocki 59)

 (Barry 180)

Wysocki discusses the ways in which humans shape materials, and how we are often confined by the cultural implications of certain technologies. Barry, on the other hand, often discusses how materials and words shape us, and she gives several examples of poems, images, and colors that create and shape our memories and dreams.

Where, then, is the true intersection of modality, materiality, and our own imagination? Do the materials we use shape us? Or do we shape the modes and materials we use? [LW]

Glossary Terms: 2/6

Image: While Andrew defined this word last week, Lynda Barry touched on this word again in the last half of Syllabus, and Anne Wysocki also discussed it in “awaywithwords.” On page 126 of Syllabus, Barry wrote that “images are not what anyone thinks about them. They have no fixed meaning.” She also wrote a question/answer at the bottom of the page: “What happens to a picture because of what we think? Nothing” (126). Wysocki points out that we use the word “image” to name a group too large, which makes us “miss [the objects’] widely varying compositional potentials”: “To use image to name some class of objects that function in opposition to word is thus either to make an arbitrary cut into the world of designed visual objects or to try to encompass a class so large the encompassing term loses function” (59). [HD]
Unavailable designs: Anne Wysocki most clearly defines this phrase in the notes of her 2005 article, “awaywithwords,” as a notion that encourages “us to explore unconventional or outsider designs, which might allow of richer transformation–as long as we figure out strategies for helping audiences understand why we do such experimenting” (60). [HD]