Reading Question (Barry)

As I read through Syllabus, I noticed how there were many times where the pictures had to contort around the text, and vice versa.  There are other times, however, where that is not the case.  The page (pg. 88) below is a good example.  I was immediately drawn to the “Hate Cr-ay-on-!” in the top center of the page.  This statement has conformed to the contortions of both the other drawings and texts.  The painted strips on the bottom left, however, are allowed to cover up Chew-Barry.  It made me think about the negotiation of space.  How do visual rhetors negotiate space between different elements, and what do those decisions imply?

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?



Reading Question 1/23

“Ultimately, what I am seeking in the photograph taken of me (the intention according to which I look at it) is Death: Death is the eidos of that Photograph.” (Barthes,15)

“The camera obscura, in short has generated at one and the same time perspective painting, photography, and the diorama, which are all three arts of the stage; but if photography seems to me closer to the theater, it is by way of a singular intermediary (and perhaps I am the only one who sees it) : by way of Death.” (Barthes,31)

“Now it is this same relation which I find in the Photograph; however “lifelike” we strive to make it (and this frenzy to be lifelike can only be our mythic denial of an apprehension of death), photography is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of Tableau Vivant, a figuration of the motionless and made-up face beneath which we see the dead.” (Barthes, 31-32)


Technically this is only three sentences, although lengthy, I thought they were all good explanations on Barthes thought process on photo in relation to death. As readers, we are made aware in the introduction that the death of Barthes mother had a great impact on him and has been argued that this is the reasoning for Barthes relating photography to death throughout the book. The quotes above showcases his beliefs that death is the idea of photography and that theater and photography are linked closely together and represent death. He explains that theater and photography strive to be “lifelike” and they are the imitation of the dead. As soon as a moment has passed, it’s dead, according to Barthes.

Because of my interest in social media, I started to wonder what Barthes would make of it. How does social media play into this idea of death? I can’t help to think about snap chat or Instagram where people post “stories” of multiple photos and instances. Is it just a timeline of death? Are we fighting against this moment of “death”? Or what about when videos are posted as well? I have to wonder if his perspective would change or stay the same.

Reading Questions (Barthes)

“This question grew insistent.  I was overcome by an “ontological” desire: I wanted to learn at all costs what Photography was “in itself,” by what essential feature it was to be distinguished from the community of images.” ( Barthes, 3)

When I first read this question in Camera Lucida, I expected that the entire book was going to be about divorcing the photo from its subject, focusing instead on the rhetoric that comes from its physical attributes.  Although a photo’s physicality is discussed extensively throughout the book (paintings are meant to show a constructed reality whereas photos presumably illustrate an actual reality, frames within a film are fleeting while a photo is observation of a single frame, that being printed on paper illustrates its impermanence), the majority of the book discusses how Photography represents the reality of its subject to the observers of it (what the operator wants the observer to see vs what actually draws the observer’s eyes- studium vs. punctum, how little details define the time and situation in photos more than shocking details do, and how photographs illustrate the impending demise of its subjects due to Time).   Still, I couldn’t shake the thought of the rhetorical effects of a photo’s physicality.  So my questions are these: what are the rhetorical effects of the physical body of photography, without considering its subject?  How would you compare or contrast them to the rhetorical effects caused by the subject?

Reading Question: Barthes (1/23)

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard, New York, Hill and Wang, 1980, p. 56.

Examining this photograph, Barthes argues that Queen Victoria sitting regally on the horse is the studium because it is the “historical interest” that draws in the viewer and leaves a general impression of liking or disliking the photograph (57). He also argues that the Scotsman holding the bridle is the punctum because this detail “‘brings out’ the Victorian nature,” though this nature is not named (57).

I’ve struggled with these two terms–studium and punctum–throughout Camera Lucida because I am unsure of their origins. The way Barthes identifies the elements of the photograph above seems to imply that studium and punctum simply exist, and have been captured by the photographer. Studium and punctum are supplied and/or created by the photograph itself. Other excerpts from the book seem to support this argument.

Yet, I can’t help but think that studium and punctum are much more subjective than Barthes is articulating and illustrating here. For instance, if someone could not place the woman on the horse in her historical context, he might not be drawn into the photograph, or if he focused on other detail than the holding of the horse’s bridle, the photograph’s punctum would be different. Earlier in Camera Lucida, Barthes even mentions that he interprets photographs with his studium (28), which suggests that viewers, or spectators, are the ones that bring studium and punctum to a given photo. These two concepts are created through an individual viewing and interpretation of a photograph.

With these two conflicting interpretations, I’m left with the following question (that I had throughout the entire first part of Camera Lucida): Where are studium and punctum located in the photo-viewing interaction? I.e. Who/what creates a photograph’s studium and punctum?