March 20

Look at the page 102 in Unflattening, Sousanis includes only two panels, both showing rain.

The two panels are significantly different and demonstrate different emotional situations.

How are the details in these images different or similar to each other?

What do the details communicate?

Finally, the focus is on the details used to show the rain to communicate different emotions.

Discuss the two panels.

Consider ways to describe rain.

What words do we use?

What are some of the phrases we use when talking about rain?

March 13 Reading Questions!!

 Unflattening by Nick Sousanis


While most of us see an argument as a battle of words between two opposing sides, Nick Sousanis in Unflattening  considers an argument as a dance. “This doesn’t mean erasing or ignoring differences. Instead, it’s a complex dynamic,”what Simeon Dreyfuss calls “holding differences ways of knowing in relationship”(38). Is the author trying to start a new argument by addressing inconclusiveness of classical arguments? Approaching an argument as compromising, listening, or basically seeing the other side’s perspective not just our own and to embrace each other? Isn’t he just repeating the Rogerian theory of argument? But the question is validity of an argument. Not all of the arguments are valid to be embraced by opposing side. I am wondering how Sousanis would address the validity of arguments by visual tools. [SK]


Is Sousanis by asking which view is the truth trying to refer to Plato’s perspective of truth? Does he mean that what we see is the shadow of the truth not the “Truth”? Can we  trust the multidimensional view of our visions? [SK]

March 6 Big Ideas in Visual Rhetoric

March 6, 2017

Big Ideas in Visual Rhetoric

Pine Point

Simons and Shoebridge’s Welcome to Pine Point is a powerful melancholic interactive web documentary about a vanished town in Canada. By using different visual tools, Super-8 film clips, text on screen, real life people’s pictures and artifacts, along with background music, they created the feeling of lost childhood happiness in that vanished neighborhood. The web documentary is full of sadness and sorrow for the lost childhood happiness and “the creators’ ineffable nostalgia for it”. [SK]

“We established this style of visual experience where there are no ads, no page numbers… a style of magazine layout you could almost call “cinematic”. It’s a perfect balance of passive and active, of visuals and words–a story about memory than a town profile” (Simons & Shoebridge). [SK]

Visual Rhetoric Glossary 2/26

 2/ 26  Glossary 

Inductive investigation of visual image is when scholars use visual imagery to explain theories formulated from the study of discourse. They begin with rhetorical hypothesis and theories and then they use them to guide them through the visual artifact. This approach assumes that visual images have the same characteristics that discourse/speech symbols have. [SK]

(Foss, Sonja K. “Theory of Visual Rhetoric.” Handbook of Visual Communication: theory. Mehtod, and Media. Eds. Ken Smith, Sandra Moriarty, Gretchen Barbatisis, and Keith Kenney, Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. 2005. 141-52.)

Deductive investigation of visual image is the investigation of the features of visual image to generate rhetorical theory. Scholars in this approach begin with features of visual image to generate theories. Scholars in this approach believe that visual images are different than discursive/conversational symbols. [SK]

(Foss, Sonja K. “Theory of Visual Rhetoric.” Handbook of Visual Communication: theory. Mehtod, and Media. Eds. Ken Smith, Sandra Moriarty, Gretchen Barbatisis, and Keith Kenney, Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. 2005. 141-52.)


Bibliography 2/12

I searched Google Scholar for Graphesis by Johanna Drucker and noticed that the book has been cited 68 times. I  read over a couple of them for Bibliography assignment.

Bowen, T., & Evans, M. M. (2015). What does knowledge look like? Drawing as a means of knowledge representation and knowledge construction. Education for Information, 31(1, 2), 53-72.

I found this book by searching Google Scholar for the works that cited Graphesis. People believe that complex and abstract concepts should be in writing or spoken language but authors have done a study on individuals’ drawings and noticed that visuals explain abstract concepts better. “Drawing is a form of knowledge production that can be used to support learning and further understanding complex or abstract concepts through the production of shared graphic objects and symbols”. [SK]

Drucker, J. (2001). Digital ontologies: The ideality of form in/and code storage: Or: Can graphesis challenge mathesis? Leonardo, 34(2), 141-145. doi:10.1162/002409401750184708

I found this article very interesting as they said digital media achieve authority in American culture because of its function in mathematics. “Since the history of images within Western culture is fraught with charges of deception and illusion, the question arises whether the ontological condition of the digital image, its very existence and identity, challenges this tradition. Or, by contrast, does the material instantiation of images, in their display or output, challenge the truth claims of the mathematically based digital file?”[SK]

Burdick, A. (2015). Meta!meta!meta!: A speculative design brief for the digital humanities. Visible Language, 49(3), 13

Burdick suggests a design approach to combine core concepts from critical theory with “design’s speculative inventiveness” and named it to three Meta processes approach (Meta of critical interpretation, the Meta of speculative reflexive design and the Meta of subject-computer-interface) to begins core humanities concepts with future digital humanities tools. [SK]

Lehman, Barbara. (2015). Visual Literacy and Education: Seeing the World Meets Critical Thinking. UCLA: Education 0249. Retrieved from

This article stressed on the demand of being visually literate in the culture dominated by images and called it a media culture. Lehman suggests a foundational approach to teaching the basics of visual literacy and she emphasizes on “seeing” as an active not passive activity. [SK]

Bowen, T. Introduction: Visual Literacy and Creative Engagements across the Global Village.

It is just 4 pages of an introduction of a book that I found in my Google Scholar research for Graphesis. Tracy Bowen says that visual literacy must be global but visual literacy is both contextual and political.  She states that “ an individual’s visual literacy is informed by the cultural codes, inclusion, exclusions and biases that we have come to live by”. [SK]

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-Diana George 1/29

“Visual literacy and Writing classes” by Diane George

George tries to examine the place of visual literacy in the composition classrooms because she believes that “some tug of war between words and images or between writing and design can be productive as it brings into relief the multiple dimensions of all forms of communication”(14).

Diane George claims that 21 century students as those who grow up in “an aggressively visual culture” and emphasizes visual analysis in postsecondary, writing pedagogies for the last fifty years after World War II. (21). Questions that are initiated through the reading are: “Are images strategies for getting students to pay attention to detail? Do they mimic the rhetoric of verbal argument? Are they a dumping down of writing instruction making visible to nonverbal students what the verbally gifted can conceptualize”(22)?

George explains different theories regarding writing studies and their interpretation of using visuals in teaching composition: Expressionism and Social Constructionism. She believes that “Visual arguments make a claim or assertion and attempt to sway an audience by offering reasons to accept than claims” (29).

“For students who have grown up in a technology-saturated and an image-rich culture, questions of communication and composition absolutely will include the visual, not as attended the verbal but as complex communication intricately related to the world around them.”(32). Teachers who have been interested in using the visual in writing classes have generally limited their discussion of analysis because there were few ways of doing otherwise.

Using the visual in writing classes have generally limited their discussion to analysis because they were few ways of doing otherwise.

Questions: How can we incorporate the visual rhetoric in first-year compositions classes? Some possible issues are the large size of the classes and students differentiated level of writing skills. In addition, some students don’t have access to computer for creating designs.

This raises the following questions:

  • What would be the guidelines and grading criteria to assess students’ abilities while they are incorporating visuals in their writing?
  • It seems we are using visuals mostly in engaging students to write arguments then how we can adapt visuals in teaching other genres?
  • How can we incorporate more visual topics to other classes across the curriculum?



Brooknotes–Shari 1/23

 Citation:   Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977. Print.

Keywords: Photograph, Culture, Society, Politics, Evidence

Summary:  Susan Sontag’s 1977 book contains a collection of six essays about photographs, which reveal information regarding our history as well as our culture and society. The first essay is titled, “In Plato’s Cave”, is a reference to Plato’s philosophy of truth/knowledge. The chapter exposes the nature of images and their relation to reality and presents a record of cultural and social beliefs about photography.  It also describes the typical photography uses throughout history.  Plato in The Republic wrote and described  human knowledge as an allegory of a cave in which prisoners are chained facing a wall and shadows of real objects are cast. The prisoners in the cave witness these shadows and perceive them as real. Sontag claims that what the viewer sees in the image correlates with their attitude to reality.  She begins her book with a brief summary of the history of photography and mentions the value of it as we keep the world in photos and then contrasts it with movies.

The first cameras were made in France and England in 1840s to capture larger images and were operated just by inventors or professional photographers. Today; however, there is at least two cameras in each household particularly in families with children to record their precious moments. Sontag notes that even though photographs are a valuable part of each book since they are evidence but they are the image of an image.  She adds that photographs are more reliable compared to paintings which are the painter’s interpretation of the reality. Sontag describes the images and the photographers’ relationships as a “chronic voyeuristic relation”.

Close to the end of this chapter, Sontag states that photography is not recording the events but recording just those events that photographers choose.  She uses the Korean War and the pictures that were captured to emphasize on the ideology of the society that those pictures were taken for.  She also notes that after repeatedly seeing the same images, even the emotional photos no longer had the same emotional effect as it had been seen for the first time by the same viewers. She refers to photography as pieces of information in the time that people are getting more interested in pictures than words. Sontag said this world ruled by photographic images as means of information. A photograph has multiple meanings; to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination.

At the end of this chapter, she restates “Plato’s Cave image” and says that people think that through photography real images of the world can be captured but in reality it’s the opposite of that. “The limit of photographic knowledge of the world is that, while it can goad conscience, it can, finally never be ethical or political knowledge” (18).  Human beings interpret evidence and images by our personal ideologies and what we see in images are not mere images of the truth—knowledge.


  1. “To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge—and, therefore, like power” (2).
  2. “To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time” (10).
  3. “Photographs are as much as an interpretation of the world as a paintings and drawings are” (4).
  4. “Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible, invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy” (17).


  1. What is she trying to say when she said: “a Photograph is not just the result of an encounter between an event and a photographer; taking is an event in itself?”
  2. Why does she think photographs are more memorable than movies?
  3. What does she mean by “ …in the situation in which most people use photographs, their value as information is of the same order as fiction.”(16)?

Works cited:

  1. Photography is a tool for dealing with things everybody knows about but isn’t attending to. My photographs are intended to represent something you don’t see.                                                                –Emmet Gowin
  1. I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.

–Garry Winogrand

  1. Photography is a system of visual editing. At bottom, it is a matter of surrounding with a frame a portion of one’s cone of vision, while standing in the right place at the right time. Like chess,or writing, it is a matter of choosing from among given possibilities, but in the case of photography the number of possibilities is not finite but infinite.

–John Szarkowski

Shari’s Bio

Hello All,
My name is Shari and this is my 2nd semester at Eastern Michigan. I live in Novi with my husband and two kids who are both seniors. One is a senior at the University of Michigan and studying mechanical engineering while my daughter is a senior in high school. I’m an EMU alumnus, I received my master’s degree in Educational Psychology in the early nineties and I have over 25 years of teaching experience. I am currently employed at Washtenaw Community College.
I am very excited to be with you all as I know many of you from last semester and we had a lot of fun studying Phaedrus in WRTG 503. I also know some of you from WRTG 500 where we researched every archive available in Writing Studies together. Some of you are new but I am assuming we all are in the same field: teaching freshman composition.