Two Video Clips: Ivan Brunetti and the Cave Allegory

Early in Syllabus, Lynda Barry makes repeated reference to Ivan Brunetti’s drawing techniques and also to his book, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice. Here’s a brief teaser–a kind of book trailer–for that book.

We didn’t have time to discuss Sontag fully enough on Monday evening. But here’s a video clip that offers a gloss-refresher on Plato’s parable of the cave (from The Republic). The parable is fraught for its over-reliance on insider-outside status, universal subjectivity, and enlightenment rationality, among other things, and yet it provides a simple model for considering the power of visual evidence (images) on epistemology.

Moving Pictures

From Susan Sontag, On Photography:

Photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it. In one version of its utility, the camera record incriminates. Starting with their use by the Paris police in the murderous roundup of Communards in June 1871, photographs became a useful tool of modern states in the surveillance and control of their increasingly mobile populations. In another version of its utility, the camera record justifies. A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened. The picture may distort; but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is like what’s in the picture.” (p. 3)

Intro, Head Map, Definition

As follow-up to the call for a blog entry in the closing minutes of Monday night’s class, here goes.

Derek Mueller is Associate Professor of Written Communication and Director of the First-year Writing Program at Eastern Michigan University, where he regularly teaches courses in visual rhetorics, writing pedagogy, and research methods. His research attends to questions concerning networked writing practices, rhetorical aspects of computational methods (e.g., data mining and visualization), and discipliniographies or field narratives related to rhetoric and composition/writing studies. Mueller’s work has been published in Kairos, Enculturation, Computers and Composition, Present Tense, Composition Forum, and JAC. For more, visit

Head Map

Head Map - WRTG540
Head Map – WRTG540

Visual Rhetorics Definition
Study of images, graphics, and visuals, how and why they are made, what are their effects, and how they circulate. But “study” is dissatisfying because rhetoric requires action and “study” hints at knowing too passively.

What Materials Do I Need?

Will I need other materials for the course? Maybe.

Beyond the required books and access to Canvas where you will find PDFs (under Files), you don’t need any specific materials for the class. I am still sorting through the details, and I will have on-hand seven sets of colored pencils, seven sets of watercolors, several piles of index cards, and a handful of pencil sharpeners. So while this is not an art class, per se, we will take up some of the guidance offered by Lynda Barry. Every class meeting will include at least one “stop-draw” and “stop-write.” Think of these as productive or generative digressions, moments in which we pause, turn our attention to a drawing or writing activity for only a couple of minutes, and then pick up again with our seminar modeled discussion.

If you are inclined–if, for example, you don’t prefer to share colored pencils or watercolors–you’re welcome to pick up your own materials. For under five bucks, you can put together a kit comparable to what’s in the photo above, which will be more than enough to support your in-class work in the weeks and months to come.