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]

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.

Glossary 3/20

Imagination: Nick Sousanis discusses imagination as a crucial to “unflattening” our perspectives. He claims, “[i]magination lets us exceed our inevitably limited point of view to find perspectives not in existence or dimensions not yet accessible” (Sousanis 88). When referring to the function of imagination, he continues, “[i]t is the imagination, Etienne Pelaprat and Michael Cole assert, that fills in the gaps and links fragments to create stable and single images that make it possible for us to think and to act” (Sousanis 90). Hence, imagination allows us to understand life from the perspectives of others.

Understanding: Regarding understanding, Sousanis explores it as the creation of meaning through the process of making connections between ideas, concepts, items, etc. Sousanis states, “[u]nderstanding, like seeing, is grasping this always in relation to that. Even as we hold and stitch distinct viewpoints together, the space between them doesn’t collapse—it’s not a process of closing, of being finished. Rather, each new engagement generates another vantage point from which to continue the process again” (150). This notion further expands and evolves the role of understanding. [MAP]

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?

Stop-Draw 3/6/2017

The Pine Point website discusses the town as being “immortalized in amber.” Part of this immortalization seems to be due to so many collective memories organized in one place. Two of the pages showed visual archives in the form of hats and badges. Thinking in this vein, consider the experiences of your upbringing. Create a logo for a hat or badge that best represents the town of your youth. If you grew up in multiple towns, do your best to represent your favorite, or most memorable, town.

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?

Reading Question (2/27)

After explaining a brief history and definition of visual rhetoric, Sonja Foss discusses what she considers three markers that qualify an image/object as visual rhetoric. She labels these markers as “symbolic action,” “human interaction,” and “presence of an audience” (Foss 144). Regarding audience, Foss states, “Even if the only audience for an image is its creator, some audience—and thus the implied act of communication—is present in visual rhetoric” (145). Since, as Foss seems to suggest, the rhetor creates an object for the purpose of communicating an idea to him/herself or others, the self can count as an audience, too.

Though this explanation seems straightforward, this particular marker seems quite broad to me, and I can’t help but wonder about the concept of an “implied act of communication” (Foss 145). Does this mean that the implied act of communication has to be intentional? What types of images/objects are created without the intention of communication? Further, how can we determine if/when a rhetor creates with the intention of communication? How does one determine the presence of an implied act of communication?