Archive | April, 2015

Visual Rhetoric_Reflection

As the spring semester finally winds its way down, my professor asked each of us to to reflect on how the things we have learned can connect out to our own work in academia.

GIF hosted on Tumblr.

GIF hosted on Tumblr.

I’m not really sure that my understandings of visual rhetoric and document design have really changed since taking this class because of my experiences last year in the Networks course. The Networks course was so different from any kind of classroom environment and from any kind of work that I had been required to do in the past, that every week was me trying to overcome my reservations about how to submit my work, what I could include (strictly text vs. incorporating reactionary gifs), the kinds of content I would be studying (neurobiology still haunts me),  and how to present my understandings and connections between those kinds of content. I realized that as I was moving through that class, I attempted to use humor as a way to convey the material I was reviewing or synthesizing and as a way for me to understand it myself. With the blog, beyond my peers, I was never sure who was stumbling across my blog, so I always tried to keep in mind that I needed to try and present information in a way that anyone could understand, even the really science-y stuff that flustered me.

In terms of this class, though, I feel like I have been gaining a little more vocabulary about how to talk about the things I am doing when I produce content, but also in how I talk about games and the visual culture surrounding the gaming community and industry. I still have a little trouble talking about rhetoric (this is my first rhetoric-centered class) and rhetorical strategies/canons, so the project I am working on and the research I am doing for it are letting me explore how people talk about the use of visual rhetoric in advertisements. For me, seeing something in a practical application helps me understand concepts far better than just theory (which is probably why I suck so badly at math), so getting to read about how the advertising industry is doing certain things in order to lure in customers, to make certain brands appeal to different groups of people, and to see the kind of cultural rhetoric in play makes a lot more sense to me.

In regards to the invention process, I think that I have become a bit more visual because the projects I have been working on in the last two years have required me to map out connections and ideas and goals in a way that I am not used to. My internship has done a lot to pull me out of my comfort zone because video games are very visual things nowadays, with text often acting as a supplemental element. My internship director is a very visual person (he’s an artist), so my invention process was no longer strictly me working on my own things. He and I meet almost every week to discuss details and to work through issues with the content, and it helps to have visuals available to make sure that we are imagining things in (mostly) the same ways. When I am working, I am not very visually driven (I tried to avoid having to do anything but type words and find gifs) because I lack the skills to get what is in my head onto paper beyond rearranging words into sentences, so having to do mindmaps for class and my internship and learning how to blog have been really good in getting me to branch out in how I approached projects and how I maintained the visual components rather than scuttling back to my purely textual bubble.

A little Music to Help the Reflection Process

Reflection Piece

My ways of thinking about visual have not changed much over the course. Prior to entering the course, I was a fan of using visuals in my classes, having students make visual arguments, and having discussions about the privileging of the texts over visuals.  A core part of my composition class is a visual analysis […]

Course Reflection

For this reflection I want to focus on how the course content has shaped my approach to scholarship, specifically with the object of study for my dissertation, which as I see it now, will be breastfeeding rhetorics, especially the publications of peer-to-peer organizations such as La Leche League. I’ve done rhetorical analysis of visual breastfeeding campaigns in then past, but I saw that work as separate, though related, to my rhetorical analyses of breastfeeding manuals.  In some ways, I considered these to be two separate areas of concern: campaigns that convey messages through visual where text was secondary in meaning making and manuals and similar documents that conveyed meaning through text where I considered images to be a bit more neutral and less important to meaning making than words.

As a scholar studying these manuals, I feel that what the content of the visual rhetoric course has revealed to me is the visual makes an impact on the audience that plays a larger role in meaning-making than I have previously considered. Wysocki’s “Impossibly Distinct: On Form/Content and Word/Image in Two Pieces of Computer-Based Interactive Media” explored the ways in which design and visual elements influence the meaning that is made through audience interaction when the textual content is similar.

As I move forward analyzing the LLL manuals and such documents, my methodology will most certainly include image analysis to examine how images and design not only reinforce the textual content, but also the ways in which the text reinforces ideas presented in images. Certainly now I see image and text working in concert with each other rather than only serving to support what seems to be the dominant mode of meaning making.