Archive | March, 2015

Annotated Bibliography #3

Dolan, J. (1987). The Dynamics of Desire: Sexuality and Gender in Pornography and Performance. Theatre Journal, 39(2), 156–174.
Acknowledging that the role sexuality plays in performance and the visual representation of women as sexual subjects of objects is a hotly contested issue within feminist criticism, Dolan gives a comparison of two main views of the function of pornography within culture.
The first is “Cultural Feminists” whose tradition stems from Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon. These theorists posit that all male sexuality is aggressive and violent, and that power creates hierarchies, which lead to violence against women (p. 157). Cultural feminists attempt to emphasize biological differences between men and women, and to put forth the idea that women are superior as well as essentially the same — that there is a common female experience. They locate that “sameness” in the female body; female bodies are capable of procreation (and male bodies are not), and that a female body “stripped to its ‘essential femaleness’ communicates an essential meaning recognizable by all women” (P. 159). Dolan remarks that if one subscribes to this view of feminism, then one is anti-pornography, as the power hierarchies of the production of the media as well as the objectification of the female body within it make it problematic. However, this then removes sexuality and desire from female representation and relegates representation to a supposedly more pure level of spiritual, dispassionate space that is somehow naturalized or idealized. Dolan describes some female performance artists who attempt to reverse these power hierarchies that lead to female objectification by either adopting a masculinized role of sexuality or being deliberately perverse or disgusting in order to remove “her body off this representational commodities market by refusing to appear as a consumable object” (p. 163).
In the second part of her article, Dolan discusses lesbian theatrical performances as reimagining gender roles along an expanded continuum (p. 170) and bringing sexuality and desire to the foreforent as opposed to banishing as a problematic taboo. Lesbian performativity, done primarily for lesbian audiences, imagines a different type of desire and deliberately manipulates traditional gender-coded performances. Their attempt is to point out the “contradictions in and limits to the traditional construction of polarized gender choices” (p. 170). However, within these performances, Dolan does continue to describe a continuum of “butch” to “femme”, which seems to me to reinforce binaries of male/female.
This article will be helpful to me as I look to consider other ways of gender and sexual representation than the heteronormative male gaze, and to note the tension within the feminist criticism community.

Timeline for Digital Design

Digital Design Experiences Timeline

For my Visual Rhetoric class, we were asked to create timelines of our digital design   disasters experiences. The picture below is a screencapture since I can’t get the embed code to work, and there is a link to my actual timeline below that.

Digital Design Experiences Timeline


When you don’t know where you’re going, the music is always fun.

Annotation #3: Inglis Nothing You Can See That Isn’t Shown’: the album covers of the Beatles

Inglis, Ian. (2001). Nothing You Can See That Isn’t Shown’: the album covers of the Beatles. Popular Music, 20 (1), 83-97. In this article, Inglis examines the aesthetics of the Beatles’ album covers in hopes of illuminating the “dynamics of album art in general” (83). First, Inglis discusses the role that the album covers play […]

Timeline: Mindmap, Popplet, and Layout/Design

Digital Experiences on Dipity.

Visual Rhetoric_Annotated Bibliography #3

Kitami, Kodia, Ryosuke Saga, and Kazunori Matsumoto. (2011). “Comparison Analysis of Video Game Purchase Factors between Japanese and American Consumers.” Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume, 6883, 285-294. Retrieved from

 Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto’s article looks at psychological factors, going beyond the usual factors of genre and console, that go into consumers’ purchases of video games. The authors begin by constructing “a purchase factor model using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), which [they] use [to] analyze the influences of factors quantitatively” in an effort “to clarify the latent purchase factors of Japanese consumers” (p. 286). They also mention that, while constructing the SEM, they attempted to avoid the subjective nature inherent in constructed models by proposing “a factor model construction process that uses KJ method,” claiming that, with this method, they “can perform a comparison analysis of Japanese and American consumers’ purchase factors in order to develop a game that will be a best-seller in both countries” (p. 286).  The authors state that the KJ method, “developed by J. Kawakita in 1951,” has four steps: “1) Create cards: Establishing a theme and writing ideas and facts related to theme; 2) Make groups: Grouping related cards and labeling groups; 3) Create diagram: Arranging the labeled groups according to directions for casual relationships; and 4) Summarize: Synthesizing the meaning of the completed diagram via text” (p. 288). The authors then break the rest of their article into four sections: 1) “the transition and characteristics of the Japanese and American game industries,” 2) “the creativity technique and proposed process,” 3) a description of the “environments and results of the experiment,” and 4) a discussion of the results.

Figure of the process used by Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto. Located on page 289.

Figure of the process used by Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto. Located on page 289.

For their experiment, the three authors “formed three Japanese groups and three American group…[and] asked these groups to form KJ method, construct six factor models, and analyze purchase factors,” which they then used to “compare the differences in psychological factors between Japanese and American consumers, with their future focus being on university students (p. 289). The authors record that they collected data on 1083 video digital games, “which were evaluated by consumers on the user review site ‘PlayStation mk2’ to analyze purchase factors of Japanese consumers [using] 16 parameters (platform, maker, genre, price, rating (target age), userrank (game rank), playnum (number of players), median (comprehensive evaluation), reviews (number of reviews), originality, sound, excite, amenity, graphics, satisfaction, and difficulty)” (p. 290). And they “collected data on 5764 video games on the user review site ‘IGN Entertainment Games’ to analyze purchase factors of American consumers…[using] 11 parameters (genre, publisher, month (release month), price, platform, rating, graphics, sound, gameplay, lasting appeal, and overall)” (p. 290). The authors concluded that “Game content has a large influence on consumers purchase motivation in both countries; Japanese consumers have strong brand consciousness and conservativeness; Japanese consumers have little consideration for genre and platform; Series information and games expansion strongly affect American consumers’ purchase behavior and overall evaluation; and American consumers prefer education games and games involving physical activity to other games” (p. 293).

I was really excited when I found this article because I was expecting the authors to really hash out the differences in Japanese and American consumers’ values and beliefs that affect the kinds of games that they purchase, which would help me think about the localization efforts of the PlayStation 4 campaign advertisements. However, this text has so many flaws that I am now looking at it for what not to do in the future. The authors left so many gaps in their explanation of their study, leaving me wondering how they chose the three groups of Japanese video game consumers and three groups of American consumers? How many people were in each group? Were these people biased towards different genres? How were they chosen? I also questioned their data collection about video games, as there is a huge difference between collecting data on 1038 games to analyze purchase factors of Japanese consumers and collecting data on 5764 games to analyze purchase factors of American consumers. Why the difference in parameters used for analysis? How did they choose which parameters for each of the countries? And then there is the issue of the sales ratios of video games genres (see below), where the genres are mostly different. Unlike the image of these two countries’ video game markets, both countries’ video game industries have quite a market for all of the genres listed on both pie charts. The family entertainment that is listed so firmly in the American market is predominately from the Nintendo games, with many of them being developed by Japanese studios. And as someone who is a huge role-playing game fan and deeply aware of the culture that surrounds such games, I am deeply wary of that genre not being listed as one of the main genres for the American market. I am not quite sure how the authors really broke down their data to come up with such results, though I am curious about the SEM and KJ method they used, but their study raised more questions than could ever be answered by their text. However, I may be speaking from a staunch source of gaming bias and ruffled RPG feathers.

Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto included two figures breaking down popular genres in Japanese and American video game markets, respectively. Located on page 287.

Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto included two figures breaking down popular genres in Japanese and American video game markets, respectively. Located on page 287.

To fan or not to fan shouldn’t even be a question

Annotated Bibliography #3: “Ethics and Ideology in Breastfeeding Campaigns”

Kukla, R. (2006). Ethics and ideology in breastfeeding advocacy campaigns. Hypatia, 21(1), 157-180.

This article published in Hypatia, Rebecca Kukla explores the rhetoric of several American breastfeeding campaigns that attempt to intervene into the infant-feeding choices and behaviors of mothers. Modern health care, according to Kukla, views the mother as having the primary responsibility for the health of her child. Kukla points of that breastfeeding campaigns often present breastfeeding, which scientific studies have suggested is the healthiest method of infant-feeding, is a civic duty, and ethical practice, and a practical method of feeding. Before beginning the analysis of the images, Kukla reviews the rhetorical exigency for breastfeeding campaigns. Breastfeeding is widely viewed as the best method of breastfeeding for a number of reasons; however, breastfeeding rates in the United States fall below target rates. She explains that breastfeeding advocates were confused about why mothers choose not to breastfeed despite the fact that it is well known that breastfeeding is very beneficial and a pleasant experience. Breastfeeding advocates assumed that the reason that mothers were not breastfeeding was because they were not getting the messages. Rather than examining the reasons that mothers were not breastfeeding, in 2004 the Department of Health and Human Services decided to hire the private advertising agency the Ad Council to design a slogan and breastfeeding promotional materials. By examining the advocacy campaign through the lens of semiotics and analysis of the ethics of the campaign, Kukla examines what the campaign reveals about the culturally situated nature of breastfeeding. Kukla explores the cultural factors that make breastfeeding difficult: sexualization of the breast, codes dictating appropriate public and private behaviors, barriers for working mothers. Kukla points out that many images of women breastfeeding show women wearing nightgowns or robes, suggesting that breastfeeding is a domestic act. The narrative about breastfeeding suggests that it is easy and joyful. Women who have difficulties with breastfeeding are seen as “deviant and unmotherly” (169). Mothers who have difficulty feel “unmotherly, shameful, incapable, defective, and morally inadequate” (170). Rather than helping mothers overcome these barriers, the DHHS campaign reinforces the notion that breastfeeding is private by include pictures of objects mean to represent breast (ie. an ice cream sundae with two scopes each topped with a cherry). The text accompanying the images reminds mothers why choosing not to breastfeed may harm children, which was a change from past advocacy campaigns that promoted the benefits. Kukla argues that this campaign was harmful because it painted mothers who face barriers to breastfeeding as harmful to their children. Kukla claims that the DHHS campaign and similar campaigns are “unethical assaults” and campaigns that focus on risk in this way are normative (175).

This article is beneficial because it helps us think about the rhetorical situation and the ways in which visual design can reveal and conceal. Though the discussion of visual analysis was played a relatively minor role in the article compared to discussion of the intended message and reception, it is important to pay attention to the ways in which visual design can be problematic when the producer or active participant fails to understand the needs of the receiver of the message. In this case, while the design was meant to send a message to mothers, it conceals the real problems. Ironically, in rhetorical analysis, this concealment of the real cultural barriers reveals problematic views of the nature of women’s experienced with breastfeeding and a lack of understanding of the barriers that many mothers face. In my own research, this essay will be helpful as a starting place for seeing how breastfeeding campaigns have been characterized in the past. In this case, there were no mothers shown in the images. More recent campaigns have featured mothers, but some have posed a new set of problems because of their contexts.


Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design

I have to admit I have been having a bit of a hard time deciding how to respond to the Kress and Van Leeuwen other than to make connections between the theory of grammar of visual images that they are cultivating and then connect it to rhetorical concepts that I am a bit more familiar with. After some initial disappointment with myself, I decided that making those connections is perhaps one of the most valuable things that I should be doing with this text.

One of the first things that struck me as I was reading Kress and Van Leeuwen’s Reading Images is that their characterization of the semiotic potential is very reminiscent of the idea of the rhetorical situation. The discuss working with the available means of communication, which they call “available forms” and “available classifications.” As in the concept of the rhetorical situation, semiotic potential “is defined by the semiotic resources available to a specific individual in a specific social context” (9).

It is interesting to me to compare some of the concepts that Kress and Leeuwen discuss to concepts that I am more familiar with from rhetorical theory. When they discuss the relationship between participants moderated by vectors, I immediately thought of the connection to the concept of agency. Who has agency in the rhetorical situation? How does the communication mode allow for agency? According to Kress and Leeuwen the actor seems to have the agency, as the vector departs from the actor. While some interactions contain no transaction, others do. It is interesting to see so much focus on reaction, because I feel that in many rhetorical analyses overlook such a strong focus on the reaction. While the rhetorical situation needs to be understood, a very important part of the rhetorical transaction is the audience reception of the message.

This discussion of the narrative design in which action moves in a transaction from the actor outward, and perhaps to a receiver to reciprocates, is reminiscent of Atzom’s discussion of narrative plot. Atzom was somewhat vague about the potential structures of such interactions, saying that “design narratives are typically constructed of layered interconnected meanings that are articulated in a holistic fashion both in the physical form of design artifacts but also in their processes” (xiv). Kress and Leeuwen, on the other hand, provide some visions of what those interactions look like. I personally find Atzmon’s discussion of layered and interconnected meanings to be more appealing because in some ways I find Kress and Van Leeuwen’s approach to be limiting. Atzmon’s description of layers and interconnectedness makes narrative seem less of a linear flow and more of an awareness of the ambient environemnt, and it also allows for deeper discussion of what may be concealed or revealed.

I’ve worked with social semiotics before, but I found it the discussion of the basic elements of the metafunctions of social semiotics to be very helpful in my thoughts about my own project. Kress and Leeuwen have said that all semiotics modes must have an ideational metafunction, an interpersonal function, and a textual metafunction. Of these metafunctions, I think that my weakest understanding was of the textual metafunction. The notion of the anchor is helpful for me to understand that concept.

Like Atzmon, Kress and Van Leeuwen argue that artifacts are understood through examination of their historical context. The articles in Atzmon’s text “decipher cultural themes in the creation, form, or use of artifacts that offer insights into the historical contexts in which these artifacts were created and used” (xxvi). While Atzmon calls this a rhetorical approach, Kress and Van Leeuwn claim that “scientific realism” views reality through the eye of a beholder, and that beholder has “had cultural training, and is located in a social setting and a history” (158). It seems, then, that to understand a design, we must not only understand the historical context of its production, but perhaps we should also understand the context of the reception. Birdsell and Goarke address the notion of meaning and how meaning is successful, or not, by saying “The meaning of a visual claim or argument obviously depends on a complex set of relationships between a particular image/text and a given set of interpreters” (313). Those interpreters, it seems, determine the way in which the image is seen or received.





My Infographic Resume

Check out my infographic resume created via Create yours with one click. via My Infographic Resume.

Simple Infographic

Column Chart of Underworld Franchise box office information

I wanted to make a comparison of the four movies and their budgets and sales figures. I was only able to easily access total sales figures from the last two movies, so I kept it to box office only, rather than home video included.

Rise of the Lycans is the only movie without Selene, although she has a “stand-in” in the form of Sophia, the daughter of Vincent that Selene reminds him of. Sophia’s costume is similar, and sets a diegetic precedence for Selene’s Death Dealer costume that comes later in the timeline of the narrative but came first in the order of the movies.

I had wanted to do a stacked bar graph to show a total, but it did not work with a budget comparison next to it. I was forced to choose one type of graph, cluster or stacked. I could not combine them with the interface. I also was interested in showing number of attendees for each movie, but those figures were not readily available.

The data set is as follows, culled from the individual movie pages located at

Underworld (2003) Underworld: Evolution (2006) Rise of the Lycans (2009) Underworld: Awakening (2012)
Budget 22,000,000 45,000,000 35,000,000 70,000,000
Opening Weekend $21,753,759 $26,857,181 $20,828,511 $25,306,725
Total Domestic Gross $51,970,690 $62,318,876 $45,802,316 $62,321,040
Total Worldwide Gross $95,708,457 $113,417,763 $89,102,316 $160,379,931

Infographic: Tiny Houses and Rhetorical Resistance

It seems that the link only works if you are actually signed in to Venngage when you click the link:

Infographic: Tiny Houses and Rhetorical Resistance

It seems that the link only works if you are actually signed in to Venngage when you click the link: