Reading Question 4/3

“Inquiring into patterned activity at any one scale can tell us something that is not evident at any other scale. Through the deliberate alteration of scale, this opening segment of the project seeks to define Canadian-American writing studies interdependency from perspectives that are yet uncommon; it seeks to introduce a viewshed for graphical, distant, and aerial treatments of disciplinary activity that may contribute to a definition concerned less with fixed essences or contrastive differentiation than noticing time-sensitive patterns and emerging shapes” (Mueller, 23).

As an “indexical aereality,” this text spatializes disciplinary activity and movement across the Canadian-American border through maps (43). This spatialized knowing seems reflective of Sousanis’s wayfinding in its shifting from a static locale to a dynamic motion of relationships that serve as definitional and shape-making. As shapes emerge, so too do contours or borders—borders that overlap other borders possibly. Are there ways of mapping or knowing borders as fluid or the edges as fraying? Some rhetoric scholars see the field as one of borrowing from others, others seem more siloed in their view—does scaling in this way take stock of the silos’ contents and their movement, or show tributaries from other ways of knowing and other fields? Also, rather than mapping only disciplinary activity, could we map disciplinary inactivity? Failures of doing, not doing, and not reaching—an antimap?

Big Ideas 3/20

  1. Visual knowing is a knowing in relationship—relationships of movement. The eyes constantly move, discerning depth. Marks across a surface create contours and define relationships of interiority and exteriority and of impressions between marks, viewers, situations. These impressions are a seeing, but a seeing this is always a seeing like that. We see from vantage points that can vary, but are always creating gaps even as they create new relationships (Sousanis, p. 72-74, 150). [TP]

Reading Question 2/27

Foss (2005) articulates a number of binaries within visual rhetoric:

Artifact | Perspective “[V]isual rhetoric now has two meanings within the discipline of rhetoric. It is used to mean both a visual object or artifact and a perspective on the study of visual data” (p. 143)
Deductive | Inductive “Some scholars deductively apply rhetorical theories and constructs to visual imagery to investigate questions about rhetoric…. A second approach involves an inductive investigation of visual images designed to highlight features of the images themselves” (p. 147)

These categorizations that I’ve labelled as binaries name collective groups of visually rhetorical work.


To what extent are these binaries here a subset of the theory-practice divide that occurs within rhetoric as a discipline? Is there ways in which the deductive | inductive binary also perpetuates this division? Are these processes fundamentally different? How neatly separated are these functions—need they be?


Along all these binarized lines seems to operate the fundamental hermeneutic assumption that visual rhetorical work is interpretive; are there ways to articulate a heuristic approach to visual rhetoric? Is the interpretive assumption linked to the artifact approach being focused on the product (p. 143)—and is there yet disciplinary understanding for the visual as process? Or a situation, giving time and space to the rhetorical elements and actors?

Glossary 2/6

Affordances: Wysocki actually makes a point of not defining affordances so statically (as she (foot)notes), but writes “ Such images can appear to be moments pulled out of sequential time because we can apparently see what is in the image all at once, given the angles of vision afforded by our human eyes and, importantly, given the particularly designed compositions of many such objects” (48). This gets at the capacity of this visual mode, but keeps the term located within the communication context instead of within the mode as a whole. Wysocki acknowledges that affordances have been discussed as fixed properties, but also that this is a slippery term. She writes, “I have tried with purpose in this paper to use terms like ‘constraint’ and even ‘convention’ that (I hope) are less fixed in our language practices, to hold onto the messiness of how we live with things that both resist and work with us and to hold on…” (60). [TP]

Social Practices/Contexts: Wysocki discusses how the constraints or affordances of visual compositions are located within their social or historical contexts. “[T]o ask after the constraints as we teach or compose can help us understand how material choices in producing communications articulate to social practices we may not otherwise wish to reproduce” (56). She connects the choices made within teaching and composing contexts to these broader social environments that are then reproduced within those contexts. [TP]


Alpert, A. (2010). Overcome by photography: Camera lucida in an international frame. Third Text, 24(3), 331. doi:10.1080/09528821003799486

I found this text through a Halle Library E-Search. In this text, the author traces Barthes’s satori, coming from translation studies, the author offers a revision of Barthes’s theory of photography, namely that the photograph represents a surplus, not a direct equivalent.

Olin, M. (2002). Touching photographs: Roland Barthes’s ”mistaken” identification. Representations, 80(1), 99-118. doi:10.1525/rep.2002.80.1.99

I found this text through a Halle Library E-Search. In this text, the author argues that the significance of the photograph is not the relationship between the photograph and its referent, but between the photograph and its viewer or user, in the messy slippages of identification that happen in that interaction.

Sliwinski, S. (2004). A painful labour: Responsibility and photography. Visual Studies, 19(2), 150-162. doi:10.1080/1472586042000301656

I found this text through a Halle Library E-Search. In this text, the author argues that images of suffering create moments in which beholders realize their inability to respond, but that this limitation provides opportunity to question ethical relationships.

Starrett, G. (2003). Violence and the rhetoric of images. Cultural Anthropology, 18(3), 398-428. doi:10.1525/can.2003.18.3.398

I found this text through a Halle Library E-Search. In this text, the author engages in a discussion of Barthes’s Camera Lucida to argue that the mediation of social relationships that come from the first interaction of the photographer and the witnessed violence makes photography the coin of political communication.

Brown, E. H., Phu, T. (2014). Feeling photography. Durham: Duke University Press.

I found this text after following a rabbit-hole of looking at multiple sources’ bibliographies and then confirming that an Ebook version of the text is available through Halle Library. The collection takes on the material and affective response to photography through a variety of theoretical perspectives and through the analysis of multiple artists and photographic technologies.


Thomas’s Intro

Hi, everyone! My name is Thomas Passwater. I am a fourth semester grad student in the Written Communication program, on the teaching of writing ‘track’. I am a graduate assistant: in that role, I teach one section of WRTG 121 and work in two satellite locations of the writing center. Before coming to Eastern, I did my undergrad at East Carolina in English studies. There I was able to work as an undergrad writing consultant in their writing center and study abroad in London.

As I am trying to complete my MA here, my project takes on inflections of material, spatial, and visual rhetorics. I’m excited to have the opportunity to study visual rhetoric now. After completing my MA, I’m hoping to pursue a Rhetoric and Composition PhD.