Visual Rhetoric: A Reader in Communication and American Culture

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SAGE, Mar 20, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 437 pages
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Visual images, artifacts, and performances play a powerful part in shaping U.S. culture. To understand the dynamics of public persuasion, students must understand this “visual rhetoric.” This rich anthology contains 20 exemplary studies of visual rhetoric, exploring an array of visual communication forms, from photographs, prints, television documentary, and film to stamps, advertisements, and tattoos.

In material original to this volume, editors Lester C. Olson, Cara A. Finnegan, and Diane S. Hope present a critical perspective that links visuality and rhetoric, locates the study of visual rhetoric within the disciplinary framework of communication, and explores the role of the visual in the cultural space of the United States.

Enhanced with these critical editorial perspectives, Visual Rhetoric: A Reader in Communication and American Culture provides a conceptual framework for students to understand and reflect on the role of visual communication in the cultural and public sphere of the United States.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Five broad pairs of rhetorical action—performing and seeing; remembering and memorializing; confronting and resisting; commodifying and consuming; governing and authorizing—introduce students to the ways visual images and artifacts become powerful tools of persuasion
  • Each section opens with substantive editorial commentary to provide readers with a clear conceptual framework for understanding the rhetorical action in question, and closes with discussion questions to encourage reflection among the essays
  • The collection includes a range of media, cultures, and time periods; covers a wide range of scholarly approaches and methods of handling primary materials; and attends to issues of gender, race, sexuality and class
  • Contributors include: Thomas Benson; Barbara Biesecker; Carole Blair; Dan Brouwer; Dana Cloud; Kevin Michael DeLuca; Anne Teresa Demo; Janis L. Edwards; Keith V. Erickson; Cara A. Finnegan; Bruce Gronbeck; Robert Hariman; Christine Harold; Ekaterina Haskins; Diane S. Hope; Judith Lancioni; Margaret R. LaWare; John Louis Lucaites; Neil Michel; Charles E. Morris III; Lester C. Olson; Shawn J. Parry-Giles; Ronald Shields; John M. Sloop; Nathan Stormer; Reginald Twigg and Carol K. Winkler

“This book significantly advances theory and method in the study of visual rhetoric through its comprehensive approach and wise separations of key conceptual components.” —Julianne H. Newton, University of Oregon


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The Performative Dimension of Surveillance Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives
Embodying Normal Miracles
Recognizing Lincoln Image Vernaculars in NineteenthCentury Visual Culture
What Lips These Lips Have Kissed Refiguring the Politics of Queer Public Kissing
Remembering and Memorializing
The Rhetoric of the Frame Revisioning Archival Photographs in The Civil War
Representative Form and the Visual Ideograph The Two Jima Image in Editorial Carttons
Reproducing Civil Rights Tactics The Rhetorical Performances of the Civil Rights Memorial
Commodifying and Consuming
The Force of Callas Kiss The 1997 Apple Advertising Campaign Think Different
Put Your Stamp on History The USPS Commemorative Program Celebrate the Century and Postmodern Collective Memory
Memorializing Affluence in the Postwar Family Kodaks Colorama in Grand Central Terminal 19501990
Governing and Authorizing
Benjamin Franklins Pictorial Representations of the British Colonies in America A Study in Rhetorical Iconology
Presidential Rhetorics Visual Turn Performance Fragments and the Politics of Illusionism
Mediating Hillary Rodham Clinton Television News Practices and ImageMaking in the Postmodern Age

Remembering World War II The Rhetoric and Politics of National Commemoration at the Turn of the 21st Century
Public Identity and Collective Memory in US Iconic Photography The Image of Accidental Napalm
Confronting and Resisting
The Precarious Visibility Politics of SelfStigmatization The Case of HIVAIDS Tattoos
Encountering Visions of Aztlan Arguments for Ethnic Pride Community Activism and Cultural Revitalization in Chicano Murals
The Guerrilla Girls Comic Politics of Subversion
Behold the Corpse Violent Images and the Case of Emmett Till
To Veil the Threat of Terror Afghan Women and the Clash of Civilizations in the Imagery of the US War on Terrorism
Look Rhetoric
About the Editors
About the Contributors

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About the author (2008)

LESTER C. OLSON is Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh, where he specializes in public address, rhetoric, and visual culture. His books include Emblems of American Community in the Revolutionary Era: A Study in Rhetorical Iconology (1991) and Benjamin Franklin’s Vision of American Community: A Study in Rhetorical Iconology (2004). His book on Franklin was recognized with awards from the Rhetoric Society of America and the National Communication Association, the two largest communication and rhetoric societies in the United States. His essays concerning visual rhetoric can be found in the Quarterly Journal of Speech and the Review of Communication. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 1984.

Cara A. Finnegan is Associate Professor in the Departments of Speech Communication and Art History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research explores the social, political, and historical role of visual communication in the American public sphere. She is the author of Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs (Smithsonian Press, 2003). Her essays on visual rhetoric have appeared in journals such as The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly. She is a former recipient of the National Communication Association’s Diamond Anniversary Book Award and the Golden Monograph Award.

Diane S. Hope serves as the William A. Kern Professor in Communications at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She publishes in the areas of visual communication and the rhetoric of social change. Publications include Visual Communication: Perception, Rhetoric and Technology (2006) and Earthwork (2001), a special issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly devoted to women and the environment. She was general editor of Women’s Studies Quarterly (2002-2005). Hope directs the Kern conferences on Visual Communication: Rhetorics and Technology, and Communication and Social Change. She received the National Communication Association award for excellence in research from the Visual Communication Division in 2004.

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