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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

George L. Dillon
ENGL 564
Seattle Campus

Current Rhetorical Theory

Prerequisite: teaching experience.

Class description

TEXTS: Carolyn Handa. Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World. Bedford-St. Martins. 2004. ISBN: 0312409753

Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, 2nd ed. Routledge, 2006. ISBN: 0-415-31915-3

Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites. No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy. University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN: 0-226-31612-2

This course focuses on two fundamental questions in the areas of Visual Rhetoric and Visual Semiotics, namely, how language-like are 'visuals' and how do certain images acquire exceptional power to rouse our feelings and even convey our cultural identity(ies)? We will begin with Roland Barthes' famous claim that photographs communicate without a code and question whether that claim still holds in this age of ever increasing digital image manipulation. We will look closely at Kress and van Leeuwen's Reading Images to consider whether and in what ways it is useful to speak of a grammar of visual design. And we will look at different claims about 'visual literac y'.

We then move from signification to power, reading.the Hariman and Lucaites book on iconic photographs and a portion of Benedikt Feldges' book on iconic figures created in American TV. This will also engage us in issues of witnessing, documentary, and the ethics of viewing.

Written work for the seminar will include collecting and analyzing images and a seminar paper addressing one of the controversial issues touched on in the course.

WARNING! The word icon is used–differently– in almost everything we read.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Seminar discussion

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by George L. Dillon
Date: 02/05/2013