ENGL488F - Topics in Advanced Writing; Visual Rhetoric

This course investigates how visuals persuade—how they construct and communicate information and influence viewers to adopt an interpretation or attitude. We will define visuals broadly to include not only “iconic” images (images that somehow look like what they represent) but also other modes of visual representation including graphs, diagrams, and page or screen design. Different methods of analysis will be used, beginning with a “grammar” of visuals that considers the position of elements, the viewing angle, the use of vectors, color variables, and reading frames. We will also consider historical and generic contexts (i.e., what is possible in one century and not in another), and techniques of representation (e.g., line drawings versus photographs). The course will not deal with “high art” nor with video, TV, or film (though “stills” from any of these media can be subjects of analysis). The emphasis in the course will be on two-dimensional visuals that accompany or replace texts. Students will write shorter analyses and a final project of their own design.