Glossary Entry 4/3

Map: Wood and Fels refer to maps as “historically contingent sign systems” (1992). Maps work because they selectively represent interests from the past, and these interests are rhetorically bound and concentrated in class, gender, occupation, etc. [KP]

Wood, D., & Fels, J. (1992). The power of maps. Guilford Press.

Standpoint: In class, we differentiated perspective and standpoint. Perspective can be considered physically–it is an act of looking, an ocular operation. Standpoint, on the other hand, is formed by identity. Our standpoint is so innate to who we are that it is pre-cognitive. Barthes would find that standpoint lends itself to punctum, because punctum draws on our unique identities.

Barthes, R. (1981). Camera lucida: Reflections on photography. Macmillan.

Bibliography Entry

Gray, J., Bounegru, L., Milan, S., & Ciuccarelli, P. (2016). Ways of Seeing Data: Toward a Critical Literacy for Data Visualizations as Research Objects and Research Devices. In Innovative Methods in Media and Communication Research (pp. 227-251). Springer International Publishing. 

Gray, Bounegru, Milan, Ciuccarelli argue for a reflection on visual rhetoric methodology. They propose a heuristic framework of reflection drawing upon the following: new media studies, science and technology studies, the history and philosophy of science, and cultural studies and critical theory.

Lohse, J., Rueter, H., Biolsi, K., & Walker, N. (1990, October). Classifying visual knowledge representations: A foundation for visualization research. In Visualization, 1990. Visualization’90., Proceedings of the First IEEE Conference on (pp. 131-138). IEEE. 

This piece proved to be a useful addition to Drucker’s Graphesis. Classifying research visualizations as graphs and tables, maps, diagrams, networks, and icons, the authors note that spatial information and cognitive processing effort differentiate the “homogenous clusters,” or the classifications of visual representations in research.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Towards a semiotics of typography. Information design journal, 14(2), 139-155. 

I based my poster off of Van Leeuwen’s piece on typography. Van Leeuwen argues that typography is no longer “a craft of the written word,” but a visual rhetoric in itself. He provides a classification system and ways in which to interpret its characteristics.

Hocks, M. E. (2003). Understanding visual rhetoric in digital writing environments. College composition and communication, 629-656. 

Hocks comments on the importance of an awareness of visual rhetoric when teaching composition, but most notably, in “digital writing environments.” Hocks emphasizes the visual representation of text on the internet, and how understanding audience stance, transparency, and hibridity can help writers and students channel visual rhetoric principles when forming online documentation.

Brumberger, E. R. (2005). Visual rhetoric in the curriculum: Pedagogy for a multimodal workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 68(3), 318-333.

Brumberger comments on the lack of visual rhetoric training in business courses. By lacking visual rhetoric education, students (as professionals) are unable to utilize and mediate multimodal environments. Brumberger suggests adding courses, integrating visual communications, and contextualizing (in business settings) existing design projects to improve on this issue.

Reading Question 3/13

On pages 54-55, Sousanis outlines Decartes’ and Plato’s mistrust of visuals due to its dependence on perception. As logical positivism became the reigning ziegeist of the time, visual thinking was not the only thing that lost its credibility–rhetoric, in large part, was dismissed as well.

What are the parallels between discrediting visual thinking and rhetorical thought?

Brooke Notes: Welcome to Pine Point


Shoebridge, P., & Simons, M. (2011). Welcome to Pine Point. NFB Interactive.



Interactive PDF, memory, multimodality, Pine Point, community.



Shoebridge and Simons document the life and death of Pine Point: a small mining town in Canada’s North Territories that was demolished shortly after the mine closed in 1987. Going through various townspeople recollections, the authors explore several themes: the enigma of human memory, nostalgia, insiders and outsiders, and physicality and mentality.



“Memory is funny. Specific and vague. Visceral and unreliable. Truth, and fiction.”

“From the moment an event occurs, it is simplified and purified in memory. We shave off the rough edges and what happened becomes a story or even, over time, a legend. It we’re not careful, though, we grind it down to raw superlatives, with none of the banalities or complications that make truth feel true. So often a memory depends on who we need to be at the moment of remembrance. Sometimes it’s better to believe that we accomplished the impossible.”

“Who can relate to an entire town closing except people whose town has closed?”



Throughout the piece, the authors speculate on the ways memory is or is not accurate. In some cases, they question its accuracy. For example, the town bully: he remembers himself as being an undefeated champion in a sport, while the authors speculatively present his memory. On the other hand, they claim that the Pine Pointers’ memories are untouched because the town’s original infrastructure was untouched (or never developed–no Arby’s), their “recollection will always be the most accurate version of that place and time.”

So what are things that cloud memory? Is it clouding, or is Truth so inaccessible, especially reflectively, that memory is truth? Can truth and memory even be compared?

Reading Question

“This ancient ‘it’ is something I call ‘an image.’ By image I don’t mean a visual representation, I mean something that is more like a ghost than a picture; something which feels somehow alive, has no fixed meaning and is contained and transported by something that is not alive- a book, a son, a painting–anything we call an ‘art form’” (15).

–Lynda Barry, Syllabus


Barthes writes in Camera Lucida that punctum makes a photo more than a visual representation. In this passage, Barry seems to be referring to a similar phenomenon, but with an image. Since the referent of a drawing is not the same as the referent of a photograph, how would you describe its transference? What makes an image an image, and not merely a visual representation?

Hi, I’m Kristie.

Hello classmates!

My name is Kristie Plantinga. I am a first year student studying technical communication. In college, I studied music and psychology. I happened upon the WRCM when I Googled teaching of writing, but after conversing with Dr. Benninghoff, I made the switch to tech comm. I loved the idea of a career that allowed me to be practical, but also pursue my creative interests.

Speaking of interests, I have many! I currently aspire to be a UX designer, content strategist, or creative director. Last semester in 505, I conducted research on tacit knowledge shared in mutidisciplinary teams; specifically, I examined the shared tacit knowledge of UX designers. My future research may include the tacit knowledge involved in higher-level activities or processes and how they are communicated through writing. This semester, I hope to learn more about design principles and usability.

Brooke Notes: Camera Lucida


Barthes, R. 1980. Camera Lucida. New York, New York: Hill and Wang.


In an effort to discover what photography was “in itself,” French philosopher and critic wrote Camera Lucida in 1980 (3). Although not a photographer himself, Barthes was fascinated by photography, particularly in contrast to other medias like film.

In Part I, Barthes goes on a personal journey; he delves into the ontology of photography, seeking a phenomenological self-understanding. Barthes identifies the three persons (or things) interacting with a photograph: the operator, or the photographer, the spectator, or ourselves as audience, and the spectrum, or the object being photographed. From there, Barthes maps the relations between the three roles. Barthes notes how the operator must intrude upon the spectrum: “they turn me, ferociously, into an object, they put me at their mercy, at their disposal” (14). Honing on his phenomenological response to a photo (“an internal agitation, an excitement, a certain labor too”), Barthes denotes the boundary between a spectator’s studium and punctum. Barthes constitutes studium as “a kind of general, enthusiastic commitment, but without special acuity” (26). In contrast, punctum refers to the “element which rises from the scene, shoots out like an arrow, and pierces me” ; demanding attention, the punctum interrupts the studium (26). In sum, photographs are subjectively meaningless until they “animate” the spectator and spark punctum within her (20).

In Part II, Barthes, noting pleasure to be “an imperfect mediator,” leaves a part of himself aside in an attempt to discover the eidios of photography (60). When viewing a personally meaningful image of his deceased mother, the Winter Garden Photograph, Barthes discovers “something like an essence” of photography (73). From there, Barthes derives the nature of photography from “the only photograph which assuredly existed for me, and to take it somehow as a guide for my last investigation” (73).

Barthes notes the codependence of the photograph and its referent, or spectrum. Photography “can never deny the thing that has been there,” and that the spectrum’s necessary presence is not metaphoric, but rather “the living image of a dead thing” (76, 79). Throughout Camera Lucida, Barthes darkly makes reference to the presence of Death (and concurrently, History) in photography. Barthes even concludes that “Death is the eidos of the photograph” (15).

Interestingly, all intextual photos in Camera Lucida have human spectrum. In order to spark punctum in Barthes, humans must be the subjects, the objects, the spectrum; they are his punctum. “Air,” as Barthes describes, is “that exboriant thing which induces from body to soul–animula, little individual soul, good in one person, bad in another” (109). Humans throughout Time and History ground Barthes’ philosophy of photography.

Barthes warns the reader of society’s concern “to tame the Photograph,” to extricate punctum (117). Barthes instead encourages the reader to pursue “the strictly revulsive moment which reverses the course of the thing, and which I shall call, in conclusion, the photographic ecstasy” (119).


“This fatality (no photograph without something or someone) involves Photography in the vast disorder of objects–of all the objects in the world: why choose (why photograph) this object, this moment, rather than some other? Photography is unclassifiable because there is no reason to mark this or that of its occurrences” (6).

“Most [photographs] provoke only a general and, so to speak, polite interest: they have no punctum in them: they please or displease me without pricking me: they are invested with no more than studium. The studium is that very wide field of unconcerned desire, of various interests, of inconsequential task […] the studium is the order of liking, not of loving […] to recognize the studium is inevitably to encounter the photographer’s intentions, to enter into harmony with them, to approve or disapprove of them, but always to understand them, to argue them within myself, for culture (from which the studium derives) is a contract arrived at between creators and consumers. This studium […] allows me to discover the Operator, to experience the intentions which establish and animate his practices” (27-28).

“I had to conceive […] how Photography’s Referent is not the same as a referent of other systems of representation. I call ‘photographic referent’ not the optionally real thing to which an image or a sign refers but the necessarily real thing which has been placed before the lens, without which there would be no photograph […] Photography can never deny the thing that has been there” (76).

“The photograph possesses an evidential force, and that its testimony bears not on the object but on time” (89).

“It [photography] is a denatured theater where death cannot be “contemplated,” reflected and interiorized; or again: the dead theater of Death, the foreclosure of the Tragic, excludes all purification, all catharsis” (90).

“Society is concerned to tame the Photograph, to temper the madness which keeps threatening to explode in the face of whoever looks at it. To do this, it possesses two means. The first consists of making Photography into an art, for no art is mad […] the other means of taming photography is to generalize, to gregarize, banalize it until it is no longer confronted by any image in relation to which it can mark itself, assert its special character, its scandal, its madness […] This is what is happening in our society, where the Photograph crushes all other images by its tyranny: no more prints, no more figurative painting, unless henceforth by fascinated (and fascinating) submission to the photographic model […] one of the marks of our world is perhaps this reversal: we live according to a generalized image-reperoitore. Consider the United States, where everything is transformed into images: only images exist and are produced and consumed […] when generalized, it (the Photograph) completely de-realizes the human world of conflicts and desires, under cover of illustrating it” (119).


  1. Can non-human spectrum spark punctum?
  2. What does punctum feel like in you?
  3. How would Barthes react to photos on social media (like Instagram)?
  4. Why camera lucida? What not camera obscura?