From the category archives:

Rhetoric

Bible and SFF

by Dr Davis on August 16, 2014

LONCON3_logoEmma England Moderator

Matthew A Collins—senior lecturer in Bible and Judaism at U of Checeister—look at Dead Sea Scrolls, way in which Bible is used in culture, biblical literacy
Chris Meredith—lecturer in Bible and critical theory—U of Winchester—literary genres tied to biblical readings, how biblical texts impact culture—one of particular areas (in addition to sexuality, identity, body) biblical worlds (space and spatial realities), long time sff fan, ways in which sf stages world similarly to Bible
Hugh Pyper—prof of biblical interpretation –Bible as cultural artifact, interesting things as sff fan and intersections between them
Frauke Uhlenbruch—editor in theology and religion dept, working on Bible and understanding—PhD Bible as dystopian and utopian, Bible as alien artifact that we can read and understand

Frauke—recently wrote at biblical episode about spies to explore Promised Land, how can be read as a Star Trek episode—not a perfect parallel
10 who said “can’t enter” = red shirts
fear of being eaten and assimilated by strangers (borg)

Matt—biblical literacy book, 100 years ago people knew the Bible inside out, lots of arguments, book which is coming out (lots of contributions, including Chris)
addressing and questioning to what extent biblical literacy is in decline
how does it get used in transmedia—appropriated—what was this called in the last panel?
looked at Lost, lots of biblical imagery, allusions, appearing throughout—episode names, stuff that isn’t pointed out to you
developed lots of following, folks analyzing minutiae in the shows
lots of people were picking up the implicit allusions because of the explicit allusions, they were reading it into it (even if folks didn’t mean it when they created it)
encouraging biblical literacy

Miniatore_di_S_Alessio_in_Bigiano_-_Leaf_from_Bentivoglio_Bible_-_Walters_1270 WC CCHugh—sff often viewed as the poorer brother
like literature to STEM
trying to use one as the leaven for the other
theme I am looking at right now, tardis as temple –all ideologies need a space, looking at how temple spaces collapse a particular kind of world into a small amenable world—trying to interrogate how the tardis is functioning in the resurgence of Doctor Who AND how tardis is used throughout the franchise
other thing enjoyed doing—feet of clay and the golem figure, body animated, corpse/corpus, sacred abroad… how you engage with that in a developing thought system
how fertile and febrile some of these things can be seen
see Bible as where our cultural discourse is happening

Chris—Will Selfe’s Book of Dave, misreading of a taxi driver’s journal buried in his back yard…
thinking about the ways the Bible has been used, misused, re-used
written on that
want to expand that—whole concept of revelation, what on earth can that mean in a contemporary or futuristic world
many sff writers have dealt with, looking at Ian M Banks and Accession
—-various races of cultural world, bring judgment onto themselves by responding to this enigmatic thing that comes into the world
What is this thing that comes into your world? Bible is everywhere. What is it doing? I never quite get an answer yet. Banks is an interesting writer to use for this. Along Dawkins side.
literary unsung –Stanis xxx Lem, great figure, His Master’s Voice (HMV) gamma rays—message or not? discover ways of interpreting it that can bring a sort of life
Lem, in the course of that novel, is really thinking through what revelation might be and what it could be and how it could be detected and confirmed

lack of awareness about what biblical scholars do
introduced how sff and Bible, so how would apply sff to biblical texts?

Miniatore_di_S_Alessio_in_Bigiano_-_Leaf_from_Bentivoglio_Bible_-_Walters_W151232V_-1270 WC CCjpgFrauke—used Lem a lot to look at biblical scholars, he likes to invent these disciplines. Solaris. Solaristics, what solarists do and how many libraries they bring—a little like we are doing solaristics, not getting to core
looking at Ezekiel, sff folk think alien intelligence
“have a new heart and a new soul”
reading commentaries on Ezekiel
then reading a lot of material about transhumanism
looking at Ezekiel to apply to biblical scholarship
but looking at transhumanism to see what it does

Matt—Bible can be viewed as being the sff 2000 years ago
same sort of things occurring in Bible
people rising from dead, regeneration (not zombies, despite what he said)
monsters
bizarre beings
performing the same role, perhaps, as sff

Hugh—do you think they peform same role?
genesis, creation
golem figures made from dust, heterotopia
then you have Odin, father of masturbators (Charles Kellogg wrote whole treatise on Odin whilst on honeymoon)
Sodom as fantastical novel, homosexual world and wipe it off planet, and have a reset
Do you think that sf now does that same job of legitimization?

Matt—I don’t know.
same sorts of things, ideas, that the fantastical in sff “we get” from sff, we find in sff
I would say we find them in sff BECAUSE they are in the Bible.
think the monsters are there

Chris—fascinating things for me is what books say about books
reading
look at OT, nobody in Bible ever reads the Bible
find where they read anything
they don’t read and they don’t write, don’t spend a lot of time
Bible has odd attitude to circumstances of its production.
Just b/c reading Banks Hydrogen Sonata—this particular culture has this book, as science advances the book appears more and more accurate—talks about new argument about theism—old medieval notion about Bible and the book of Nature, what we are learning now is to read the book of nature well, at the expense of reading the Bible
some things going on in whole genre, alternative book/world to read
always a world that is being written to be read

Bible of Wencelaus Noah ark WC pdQuestion:
examples of places where people read texts

Chris—got to the end of your fingers, there aren’t that many considering that the people in the Bible knew how to write and were concerned about writing
Not saying it never occurs. Just saying you have to look for it.
but you get genre where people are arguing about reading books in the book

Question:
Jewish, OT is counterculture text, specifically against beliefs in area—now it is the constant of main culture and sff is sort of counterculture—can you connect those two things?

Bible of Wencelaus entire page WC pd 1389Frauke: looking at Abraham to sacrifice his son, lot of negotiation in this text
us against them
we don’t do it that way
They are not our friends.
but you get cracks—near sacrifice of Isaac, crack it open, quite rebellious
idea of Abraham being obedient… seems outrageous (but was very common in the culture)
read Testament graphic novel and text Open Source Democracy
flip the story around, becomes a story about rebellion and written from perspective of Isaac
biblical scholarship becomes open source Bible

Question:
obedience, recently did paper on new Noah film—made OT more savage
director uses fantasy tropes to negotiate and support story, and obedience again
Matt:
Spoilers—there is a lot of rain. Everyone dies.
Noah firmly believes that the human race is supposed to be wiped out. His job to save animals, but not people.
When he finds out his DIL is pregnant decides he should kill his DIL or the babies.
use of fantastical—rock giants, kind of there (Genesis 6—the watchers and the Nephilim, at the time there were giants on the earth)
takes flood story from Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilee—fallen angels sleep with human women and giants are born
in the movie, the rock giants are the fallen angels
Noah does seem to think that God is telling him to kill these children. Quite problematic how it is dealt with.
Resolution of this is that Noah decides he can’t murder them. Thinks that in doing so he has disobeyed God, which is what leads him to getting drunk after the flood.
His family is upset that he was wandering around the ark with a knife planning to murder them.

Bible of Winchester 12thC initial D and bear WC pdHugh:
biblical excrementia –how Bible gets turned into shit in popular culture
issue of reading
What I think Aaronski is doing, is retelling biblical text but to have tension has to have Noah as a fundamental—solid communicative message that has to be answered.
Calls contemporary use of the text into question—what the notion
building in a kind of internal biblical impetus

Jesus is not reading the Bible.
eunuch is not reading the Bible
text is reading itself being misread

Matt:
God is entirely absent in the film.
all characters are asking God for a sign and they aren’t getting it
We don’t have direct text from the film of God.
Wakes up and feels he needs to kill the children.
Whole theme of obedience and God in the film is … undermined.

asp turtle? bestiary bible imageQuestion:
comparison to natural stories of Bible and sff?
what difference does it make if you are making theoretical speculation?

Frauke:
preternatural—what is not yet explained by science
like to look at sff where you encounter situations that you don’t understand
sff and Bible have in common—difficult to imagine the unimaginable
zone where laws of physics are bent, but you don’t know why
Bible is imagining the deity, but we don’t know why
how do we as a society write the unthinkable?

Chris:
thinks of story little girl to the airport and airplane takes off, how does the plane fly? the little girl says pilot, going fast, finally—magic
what differentiates us in life is at what point you say magic

one of things in biblical text, Noah text, the Watchers all that fantastical material is there in other fantastical ancient
there in Enoch, etc
Genesis 1 doesn’t contain these other conscious beings… small light, big light—not naming because the names have been used as gods, so they aren’t gods; they are made things
not magic all the way down

God-Architect frontispiece of Bible Moralisee mid-13th C France WC pdBook of Genesis way of saying not magic all the way down
to locate it all in one divine act
that’s just another stage “it’s magic—God did it”
but it is a different stage from other ancient cultures
in that very text that becomes the scientific Western culture, already a push to move away from animism or little gods fighting—gone beyond that, at least

Hugh:
different fundamental laws in different texts
Song of Songs, immaterial or unnamed magic—AiW
no real impetus behind the magic, is it a dream?

Question:
interpretation of who is God? talked about Noah in movie not having voice of God? Want to cite Star Trek: TNG omnipotent Q implies to Jean Luc Picard that he is God, Picard shouts “You are not god!” None of Bible heroic figures do that…

Hugh:
tricky one… where I would go to think about it is to Q-like prophets. King in Jerusalem and Jeremiah or Elijah.
Elijah as a Q figure.
Elijah and Elisha are wonderfully subversive.

Manuscript_European_Bible_Ottheinrich_15th_Century p488 ebay bc of age pdFrauke:
Q Who episode… puts them in the Delta Quadrant… to demonstrate they are not as strong as the borg
can be found biblical parallels
maybe the flood–would add the Israelites in the desert

Chris:
whole plot line of the gospels, someone claiming to be god, that claim being disputed and still is
That story isn’t closed. (as Heather Urbanski used it)
people do go back to that kind of moment and ask how we could know. What would make it true for us? culturally mediated
God as God.
Job does that. Job is in an argument with that.
Can’t get the direct communication.
One of the hearts of the contemporary discontent = if you are there, why not make it more obvious?
Bertrand Russell, if show up in Heaven and there is a god, what would you ask. “Why did you make the evidence of your existence so limited?”

Frauke:
ST:TNG might be that ST franchise doesn’t want God in the worldbuilding.

1611 KJV 1st ed She geneologies ebayQuestion:
ST: Deep Space 9
Bajorans think of them as gods.
Cisco sees them as aliens.
Cisco eventually starts to get the spiritual element to it later.

Matt:
Stargate: SG1 or original film, all these aliens who are the origins of all the mythological gods
rationalization of some of this stuff
religion and belief, divine figures, just people with abilities we don’t have
to attempt to answer your question—Once you have the explanation, do you ever still accept the spiritual?
21C we know the explanations—like evolution—nevertheless there are those who continue to accept spiritual explanations

Hugh:
in ST: DS9, race—Feringi and Jewish business man
occupation of Canaan, who are innate Canaanites?
Cardassians, Bajorans, Starfleet?
what conquest texts are hoping for
how religion is featuring in a trans-national

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Narrative of Costume Design

by Dr Davis on August 10, 2014

Lesley McIntee is with Chaos Costuming. She’s been Rolando Molari and a Musketeer this weekend for invention, enjoyment, and sheer fannish joy. She described herself as a refugee from academia and asked that I plug Redemption, the con of which she is ConChair. (It is in February in Coventry.)

She is the moderator.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw,
The Narrative of Costume Design
Big Bang Press
Costume blogger under Hello, Tailor

film maker vision, whole aesthetic can be influenced
simple details in costumes can tell us a lot even when it is something simple

coulson_iron-manIron Man 2008
Agent Coulson’s first appearance. Role is to be annoying government bureaucrat. Dressed as middle management dweeb. BUT His shirt has stripes, and no one else’s does.
cuffs are over his hands–too big, like a kid wearing dad’s
smaller at the shoulders and bigger at waist
Good suit makes you look good.
Following corporate dress code but doesn’t care.
He’s forgettable.

The Avengers 2012
Agent Coulson gray suit again, fits better, cuffs don’t cover his hands, showing off his stupid man watch
more expensive tie
plain blue Oxford
Dodgey Cabana suit

Agents of SHIELD 2013
crisp white shirt, fancy car, gorgeous look

Costume Science
in every film
usually a major costume in the film
Like Amadala’s costume in Star Wars. Purpose to look amazing.
Oscar nominations are almost all historical, sf, or fantasy.
Oscar: “Best Actor goes to the most acting.”
Costumes are the “most costume design.”

Bourne Identity had a costume designer, but no one discusses.

The Duchess
best way to get costume is to design for her outfits
6 Oscars to her costume designer
special feature “12,000 buttons by hand”
very realistic and detailed
but doesn’t tell you anything about the character

Downtown Abbey looks fantastic, but it doesn’t help understand the narrative.

Other examples:
LotR–armor making “lost fingertips by making armor”

BBC Rose Doctor WhoRose in Doctor Who “most normal clothes”
tee shirt with overalls

Reasons for why we dress:
money
body type
what you are interested in–if hate fashion, don’t dress up and try to blend in

If watching tv or movie with normal outfit, a reason.

Twilight
Bella Swan has to look like most banal person imaginable so everyone can relate.
Gray hoody.

Supernatural season 1 (2005)
two brothers Sam and Dean, road trip hunting monsters
jeans, trainers, leather jacket and blue jean jacket
practical shoes, practical jackets, jeans, Sam plaid shirts
Have to replace their clothes often.
cheap and easy for costuming

Originally the show was marketed to males.
Really manly. Tough, rough, ready to go, not caring about fashion.

Supernatural season 9 (2013)
still wearing the same style clothes–not exactly, but off the rack, jeans

Comparison that plays to a similar audience and brothers and look normal.

Teen Wolf imageTeen Wolf
Very different.
black sleeveless tee (tank top)
leather or high school jacket
Henleys
V-neck tees

costume designing reinforces gender roles
classic franchises have real history of real misogyny
Star Trek, Star Wars, super hero
can’t critique because we love Princess Leia and the ST uniforms.

Uhura (1960s and reboot)
1960s: minidress, long sleeves (designed by gay man to make her look fabulous, very sexy)–also more normal for time
reboot: focused group, shorter arms

New one doesn’t have arms.
Practical concern in world building.
Women don’t have a place to put their military rank. So captain has to be a man.

ST Reboot written by men, produced by men, costume design by man

negative effect because as soon as you see a minidress and bikini you probably respect her less.

MARVEL'S THE AVENGERSScarlet Johanssen’s Black Widow in The Avengers
majority of mainstream reviews — “smoldering in her cat woman character”
Not realistic. Not dominatrix outfit.
In the movie she’s wearing useful work. Female version of Captain America’s outfit.
So we perceive the character differently because of other costumes the character has been in.

Fifth Element
looks incredible
costumes aren’t much about reality
costumes show flamboyant and lots of money
real reason costumes look like this, is costume guy was a fashion designer and so he went as far as he could–amazing, but not related to the world

Alien
costumes in Alien… you don’t think about the costumes
Everyone here are space truckers. Large portion at start, no dialogue. Visuals are all we have.
One size fits all. Working class uniform.
White trainers and white EMT pants.
Sigourney Weaver’s character: POV character. Blue jumper. Or blue shirt and blue pants.
Lambert, cowboy boots, vest with patches
Bret, looks like crap, covered in dirt, wearing a white shirt, Hawaiian shirt, totally scruffy
Captain, neat, white shirt, white EMT pants, white trainers
boiler room guy: gray tee-shirt, white EMT pants, belt of fabric, white trainers

space suits: look about to die in here, grunt job, not fancy

Inception
love the gray suits in this film
Best gray suit film of all time.
Ocean’s Eleven heist movie. Same costume designer for this one and that one.

each of characters are wearing a uniform–suits
each has a particular style
Hob is central character and dresses like a boring dad. American Everyman.

Hailey murphy’s character, perfect suit, double breasted suit–usually worn by older men so he’s cosplaying as his father, white line pocket hankie, gray

Mal is Cobb’s wife
dead
only time we see her is all perception
Always looks like a vamp.
dresses in dark purples and blacks
malevolent presence

Saito–Japanese character, wears the underneath part of kimono under jacket

Yusuf- Kurdish shirt, relaxed, hanging around, works in drug cartel
all browns and beiges

Arthur and Eames
only talk for like 5 minutes
left and right brain imagery
Arthur, organizer, really neat, kind of vain–person with most fashion sense
–In dreams, he still wears these shoes. John Vaggis shoes.
Eames is opposite. Really distinctive style. British ex-pat. High waisted trousers. Colored shirts. complimentary color scheme as beige and green and brown

Ariadne
terrible dialogue, asks questions for men to answer
normally she’s casual, not bothered by looking fancy, low heeled shoes and pants, blue shirt, red casual jacket
in dreams, the suit doesn’t work very well. Her sleeves are too long. Seams are wrong. She’s uncomfortable in suit.


Question:
Matrix–switch clothing. They are putting their characters on as costumes. Idealized.
In the matrix more based on filmmaker’s interest. Every single person who has joined has mild interest in BDSM.
Neo’s coat was made from shitty fabric.
They had no $$ for costume budget.

Question: Increasing trend in historical fantasy in tight trousers. Every single male in Davinci’s Demon. Villain is the only one dressed in Renaissance outfit.
Not new development. People wanted to make films where people look hot for no reason.
Visual cue to tell us it’s a fun show.
Three Musketeers explains how they are for fun, not a serious adaptation.

Characters in tv shows where building up a convincing wardrobe.
Revenge–US weekly show. Nolan Ross, Steve Jobs’ character, amazing wardrobe of very showy outfits. When you see flashbacks, he’s wearing a black hoodie. Once he got rich, he just apes them. Has everything in striped pastels.

Lots of shows where women’s costumes are important. Glee. The Goodwife.
Tv usually has more fashion because it’s a marketing tool.

The Hunger Games?
Costume design. First not good for costume design. Second film better.

Books evil are obsessed with fashion. Capital. Outlandish. In the first film, you don’t see that individual obsession with fashion. Second one they did.

Books did a lot more. Body modification, too.

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Early Ideas of Imagery

by Dr Davis on June 19, 2014

I am a logo-centric person; I have even called myself (quite proudly at the time) a word hoarder. As I was going through my computer–since I have managed to fill up my hard drive again–I found some early images that were my first attempts to blend the verbal and the visual.

This one is labeled Philosophy of Education.

phil of ed

This one is a Dali labeled e-learning.
Galatee by dali e-learning

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T&P and Imagery

by Dr Davis on June 18, 2014

I have been thinking about my tenure and promotion portfolio quite a bit, as it is due in the fall, and I had a lot of thoughts about it relating to the chapter from Rice on imagery.

In the post, I wrote, How would images change composition if we were working on them first?

I wonder if I worked on images for a particular section first, or worked with images about a particular section first, what that would do to/for my portfolio.

Just for Fun: Search and Find
Just for fun, I am going to take 10 minutes and search for images that I think might/could be useful for my portfolio. Ready… Set… Go…

What Searches?

Okay. So in ten minutes, what did I look for?
research
teaching
college
university There are no images of University in Wikimedia Commons from the United States.
instructor
professor
rhetoric
linguistics
rhetorical appeals
phonetics

That means I started with words (unlike what was suggested by Ball, as per my notes on “Assessing Multimedia Rhetoric”), but I was focused on images. (Not necessarily having images in mind first.)

What I found were not the kinds of things I would have expected/wanted, though some of them were particularly interesting.

I am posting my ideas of “the best.” In this case, these may not be images I ever use.

Images and Thoughts.

Michael Reschke, WC CC3

Michael Reschke, WC CC3


This is labeled an icon of teaching.

Livewire9609, WC CC3

Livewire9609, WC CC3


While we are getting rid of our Mac labs, since most of our students have computers now, I thought the image offered some interesting discussion points–including digital literacy, working with students individually, etc.

jtneill, WC CC3

jtneill, WC CC3


This was the “blank” for a particular sociology research report, but I thought it might be useful for illustrating how research moves and impacts various categories of the t&p portfolio.

For instance, I gave a conference presentation which won an award and the editor of a peer-reviewed journal attended and asked me to submit the article. After I did, and finished the revise and resubmit, the article was published. Then it was quoted in the New York Times.

However, the “research process” doesn’t match that connectivity. So it wouldn’t work for that, but it does give me an idea of a visual I could create.

Sculpture.rhetoric cathedrale.Laon in bk 100+ yrs WC pd

This is a sketch of the sculpture of Rhetoric from the Cathedral in Laone. I wonder what the missing hand might be said to represent.

Jonathon Oldenbuck, WC CC3

Jonathon Oldenbuck, WC CC3

This is from Edzell Castle in Angus, Scotland. As I am in Scotland right now, it seemed relevant. It also, to me, looks like a woman dancing around on books. For some reason, I thought it might be how others view me. … A bit crazed, but really carefully crafted.

The Grammarian teacher rhetoric historyFlorence 1437 WC pd

This image was in linguistics, but is the grammarian, which would have been a teacher of rhetoric. It is medieval, from 1437-1439, which is a time period I teach in literature. It has two pupils, but they are very much the teacher and the students separated.

Nachitka Barrett released to public domain.

Nachitka Barrett released to public domain.

This is a mystagogue, a person who initiates others into mysterious knowledge–so an educator. I like the imagery of conglomeration; it reminds me a bit of the difficulty of juggling all we need to do. However, I also do not think that it is a positive image and I don’t want to artistically/rhetorically suggest professor as monster.

J Bulwer 1644 bk illus gestures for rhetorical appeal due to age WC pd

These are illustrations from 1644 that show gestures for various rhetorical appeals. I like the set, but I don’t think they would “make sense” in my portfolio, but would instead add complication.

Now that is an idea. Instead of the mystagogue, I could use these gestures from rhetoric to show the complexity aspect… I will have to think about that more.

Success or Failure?
While I am not sure this is the best idea ever, it certainly is an improvement over the “listing” first idea from “Juxtaposition Thinking.”

I did gain some things from the images. The idea of complication seemed to keep coming up.

I also think I will probably end up having to purchase (or create) my own images for the portfolio if I have more than a few.

Why only if I have more than a few? Because I already have a few that I think would work. They are pictures of my students, the school, my work, etc.

RrNm

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Sir Walter Scott, Portraiture

by Dr Davis on June 18, 2014

Continuation of
Sir Walter Scott and the New Science of Reading, a discussion forum
Royal Society of Edinburgh
June 16, 6 pm

portrait Sir Walter ScottDr Viccy Coltman, U of Edinburgh
portraiture in image and text
Scott’s attitude toward material culture, the visual arts, based on his copious correspondence was very negative. Basically he was an iconophobe.

Scott saw illustration of his works as lowering the work to meet the popular culture demands of the middle class.

But there are significant pictorial aspects of Scott’s work. Such as the different senses used to describe a face in the last discussion.

Fergus Mac-Ivor and Waverly in their Highland dress… reference to Raeburn
Scott sat for Raeburn 13 different times, for paintings

2 interrelated aspects of my ongoing work
chapter of a book I am writing

painted portraiture
“physiognomy of Romanticism” real and rhetorical practices of portraiture
look at an ekphrastic portrait in The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) chapter 26

staring picture of John Girder himself ornamented this dormitory, painted by a starving Frenchman…. utterly inconsistent with the dogged gravity of the original, that it was impossible to look at it without laughing…in presuming to hang it up in his bedchamber, had exceeded his privilege as the richest man of the village… respect for the memory of my deceased friend… has obliged me to treat this matter at some length; but I spare the reader his prolix through curious observations, as well upon the character of the French school as upon the state of painting in Scotland at the beginning of the 18th century

fictional portrait into the 1819 novel (first description of Scots painting–their unique styles–was 1817)

Scott was one of the 2 most painted private figures of the 18th C. (Wellington was the other.)

Russell’s catalog of Scott has 200+ busts, portraits, etc.
kaleidoscope of views from 5 yo Scott to after his death…

1871 exhibition had 171 images
2 Sir Walters, courtly baron surrounded by grandeur, others earthy Scott in the Scottish landscape

Portrait_of_James_Northcote_Painting_Sir_Walter_Scott WC pd
Northcote’s work 1828 capitalized on the fact that Scott has been painted so often
Sir Walter Scott being painted by James Northcote
Northcote in his Titian cap, before an enormous rectangular canvas—extends beyond the right hand frame
Scott with his back to the window, painted on the canvas of the portrait of Northcote is a full-frontal
original image has been lost
we have a smaller copy of it (38×49)
another presence in the canvas, the person who commissioned the image

Northcote includes his own portrait in the doubled portraiture of Scott
“I thought it a great honor to be on the same canvas with Sir Walter.”
double portrait of celebrity and artist’s self-portrait

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Defining Visual Rhetorics: Emerging Graphical Conventions

by Dr Davis on June 17, 2014

Kostelnick, Charles. “Melting-Pot Ideology, Modernist Aesthetics, and the Emergence of Graphical Conventions: The Statistical Atlases of the United States, 1874-1925.” Defining Visual Rhetorics. Eds. Charles A. Hill and Marguerite Helmers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 4314-4779. Ebook.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0

“Visual language develops within discourse communities that enculturate its members in its conventional codes” (Kostelnick 4322 of 6169).

Kostelnick discusses six statistical atlases related to censuses from 1870 to 1920. Prior to these atlases, census data was only released in tables. These atlases “played a pivotal role in the development of conventional forms to represent data” (4333 of 6169).

The atlases also, according to Kostelnick, “aimed to objectify representations of cultural diversity by making them appear economical and perceptually transparent” (4333 of 6169). For example, the atlas of 1874 “visualized the distribution of people across the country, their religious affiliations, occupations, literacy, mortality rates, and health” (4364 of 6169).

When they were first published “readers were unfamiliar with the visual language of data displays” and so the atlases educated “citizens not only in the progress of the nation but also in visual literacy” (4354 of 6169); this was particularly true of the atlases from 1874 and 1898 (4429 of 6169).

The “process of enculturation creates rhetorical efficiency as well as poses an interpretive problem because readers come to regard conventional forms as natural, direct representations of fact unmediated by the artificial lens of design” (4474 of 6169).

Visual language “can embody elements that direct attention, persuade, and shape attitudes” (4484 of 6169). Kostelnick gives an example of this regarding a field of pie charts from the 1898 atlas which showed “only the relative concentrations of foreigners within a given state” and thus obscured “the fact that some states had very high concentrations of certain ethnic groups” (4536 of 6169).

Kostelnick says that the displays could be ambiguous.

By showing economic assimilation during hard times, were the designers trying to reduce the threat of foreigners, or were they fueling anti-immigrant sentiment? Depending on readers’ interpretive frameworks, they might be receptive to either argument. (4561 of 6169)

To me that seems to be as close to actually objective as anything can get. If you can read it both for and against a single argument, then it’s objective.

“Designers control what is and what is not visualized, and that control has rhetorical consequences” (4576 of 6169).

“[A]rguing with data displays has become a highly contested form of visual rhetoric” (4613 of 6169).

“[T]he displays rely on textual explanations for their interpretation, creating an interdependence between word and image. Notes and labels on the plates are primarily set in a serif typeface and often italicized; display text is often rendered in handwritten capitals; and decorative arrows direct readers from text to charts” (4635 of 6169).

Kostelnick also discusses the change in aesthetics from Victorian to modernist. “Staying in step with the shifting tides in fast enhanced the ethos and usability of the atlases. It also addressed the more specific rhetorical problem of representing immigrants to a multi-ethnic audience with forms that were ostensibly objective” (4710 of 6169).

Other point of interest:
Discusses the circle chart (4395 of 6169), which is relevant for my business writing class.

computer and glassesRelated readings:
Kinross, Robin. “The Rhetoric of Neutrality.” Design Issues 2.2 (1985): 18-30.

Kostelnick, Charles and Michael Hassett. Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2003.

Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics P, 1983.

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Defining Visual Rhetorics: History of the Visual

by Dr Davis on June 16, 2014

Finnegan, Cara A. “Doing Rhetorical History of the Visual: The Photograph and the Archive.” Defining Visual Rhetorics. Eds. Charles A. Hill and Marguerite Helmers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 3913-4305. Ebook.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Finnegan begins by discussing the visual rhetoric within a speech by FDR. She then compares it to a LOOK (pictorial magazine) layout on the same topic–poverty and the Depression (3943 of 6169).

Finnegan argues that identifying “visual rhetoric” as images specifically we are “reinforcing the subordinate status of visuality in the contexts of rhetorical culture” (3955 of 6169). Instead, she suggests that we “conceptualize visual rhetoric as a mode of inquiry” (3967 of 6169).

Heuristic:
As a heuristic she suggests that we use “the tools of rhetorical history to sort out three moments in the life of an image for which a critic must account: production, reproduction, and circulation” (3975 of 6169).

Finnegan explicates David Zarefsky’s four senses of historical rhetoric and then says that the third (historical study of rhetorical events) and fourth (rhetorical study of historical events) (3997 of 6169) are both necessary for “doing rhetorical history of the visual” (4009 of 6169).

Production:
In her discussion of production (starting at 4030), Finnegan introduces the history of the technology of modern photography, the debut of picture magazines, and the FSA photographs which were printed in LOOK. She does not attempt a complete history, but introduces these three production ideas as a means of complicating/examining/illustrating the history of production (4076 of 6169).

Reproduction:
As Finnegan moves into reproduction, she says we must look at what images “are made to do in the contexts in which we discover them… [T]he ways that the arrangement of image, text and caption work to create meaning in the contexts of particular rhetorical events” (4076 of 6169).

The context of the photographs is within a magazine that intended to “use photographs to tell narratives about real people in specific situations, but always in ways that cultivated universal interest” (4047 of 6169). Complicating this particular photograph spread is its positioning between an article on buying a wife in Zululand and a two-page centerfold of an actress in a bathtub full of flowers (4087 of 6169).

There is a lot of discussion of rhetorical issues: the child as a visual synecdoche, the distortion of scale, the irony of “children of the forgotten man” when the man isn’t pictured at all, the infantilization of the poor, the layout of the images…

Possible problems:
One:
Finnegan argues that “the layout of the image [of an African-American girl by herself] in a circular shape” represents surveillance (4110 of 6169). The girl is being seen only through the camera lens.

I don’t think surveillance is an issue here. Most people of the time would not have thought of cameras as circular lenses. Historically round or oval frames were used for portrait photography in the late Victorian age and on into the Edwardian age. The time of the photograph (1937) makes it far more reminiscent of this than it does of the modern surveillance cameras (which I, at least, do not think of graphically as circles). If it were considered anything, I think it would most likely be “posed,” since photographs were not instantaneous.

This, I think, is one of the difficulties of doing historical rhetoric. Few rhetoricians are also historians and it is very easy, even for an academic, to get focused on one idea and not look for alternative explanations.

Two:
Finnegan says that the facts offered in the short and dramatic captions are “not credited to any kind of expert who might testify as to the accuracy of the facts” (4142 of 6169). However, the FSA are experts who produced the photographs and they felt the captions were well done (4208 of 6169).

Circulation:
Finnegan discusses the rhetorical presentation of the magazine (4164 of 6169), including how it contributes to views of poverty in the Depression (4174 of 6169).

Neil Betten argues there is a continuum of views on poverty from a “hostile view,” which blames the victim, to an “environmental view,” which faults the socioeconomic system (3, qtd in Finnegan 4174 of 6169).

The LOOK photo spread “seems to invite a hostile reading of the sharecroppers’ plight through its use of vivid images and dramatic text, [but] it also suggests a more environmental view through its deployment of the powerful trope of the ‘forgotten man’” (4186 of 6169).

Finnegan discusses the political advantages for FSA to have its photographs in LOOK and the fact that the photos were circulated in a number of different contexts, so their perception was not limited to the readers of LOOK, what Finnegan calls “the fluidity of the circulation of the FSA photographs” (4229 of 6169).

WC CC3 by Twice25

WC CC3 by Twice25

Related readings:
Blakesley, David and Collin Brooke. “Introduction: Notes on Visual Rhetoric.” Enculturation 3 (Fall 2001). Web.

Zarefsky, Davis. “Four Senses of Rhetorical History.” Doing Rhetorical History: Concepts and Cases. Ed. Kathleen J. Turner. Tuscaloosa, AL: U of Alabama P, 1998. 19-32.

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Defining Visual Rhetorics: Images Construct Memory

by Dr Davis on June 15, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Edwards, Janis L. “Echoes of Camelot: How Images Construct Cultural Memory Through Rhetorical Framing.” Defining Visual Rhetorics. Eds. Charles A. Hill and Marguerite Helmers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 3595-3904. Ebook.

This article looks primarily at the main image associated with John Kennedy, Jr.–the image of a boy in short pants saluting his father’s casket, after framing and practicing the argument on the flag-raising image from 9/11.

Edwards argues that “images disseminated in connection with newsworthy events become attached to the event in the form of cultural remembering” (3595 of 6169).

Images can “express particulars to evoke the universal” (3600 of 6169). According to Edwards specific images “create larger rhetorical frameworks that revive and reimagine the narratives that constitute cultural myths” (3611 of 6169). Iconic photographs “expand representation” (3622 of 6169).

The-picture-of-the-funeral-JFK-Jr-salutes-his-fathers-casket

The image’s reproduction was not simply as a photograph, even when cropped in various ways. Instead, it was also referenced verbally (3654 of 6169).

When John Kennedy Jr died “news outlets and editorial cartoonists linked the tragic and premature deaths of father and son” continuing “a narrative of national regret over unrealized potential” (3676 of 6169).

When they are used out of historical context, they refresh the memory and associate it with the new experience. The photo acts as an argument, saying that this new thing is related to the old thing (3687 of 6169).

Edwards examines the JFK Jr photo in relation to Perlmutter’s “eleven characteristics of outrage-provoking photographs” (3732 of 6169). The eleventh discusses the composition of the photograph as it is most commonly reproduced (3787 of 6169).

Edwards discusses the editorial cartoon appropriation of the image (3799-3869) discussing the recontextualization of images.

Related readings:
Perlmutter, David D. Photojournalism and Foreign Policy: Icons of Outrage in International Crisis. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

Zelizer, Barbie. Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.

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Tech to Support Learning

by Dr Davis on June 14, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Bransford and Brown.“Technology to Support Learning.” How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. 206-230. Web. May 2012. .

“[T]here is a strong argument for electronically linking students not just with their peers, but also with practicing professionals” (212).

Scaffolded experiences can be structured in different ways. Some research educators advocate an apprenticeship model, whereby an expert practitioner first models the activity while the learner observes, then scaffolds the learner (with advice and examples), then guides the learner in practice, and gradually tapers off support and guidance until the apprentice can do it alone (Collins et al., 1989). Others argue that the goal of enabling a solo approach is unrealistic and overrestrictive since adults often need to use tools or other people to accomplish their work (Pea, 1993b; Resnick, 1987). Some even contend that well-designed technological tools that support complex activities create a truly human-machine symbiosis and may reorganize components of human activity into different structures than they had in pretechnological designs (Pea, 1985). (214)

This is an interesting set of options. I am most likely to use the first set, even though I know that often my students will need to re-visit the idea of learning. While always having a solo approach is very unrealistic, there are lots of instances when that is exactly what every single one of us has to do.

[T]he mere existence of these tools in the classroom provides no guarantee that student learning will improve; they have to be part of a coherent education approach ” (216).

This is absolutely true and not the way we consistently use technology in the classroom.

An added advantage of networked technologies for communication is that they help make thinking visible. This core feature of the cognitive apprenticeship model of instruction (Collins, 1990) is exemplified in a broad range of instructional programs and has a technological manifestation, as (220) well (see, e.g., Collins, 1990; Collins and Brown, 1988; Collins et al., 1989). By prompting learners to articulate the steps taken during their thinking processes, the software creates a record of thought that learners can use to reflect on their work and teachers can use to assess student progress. (221)

I like the idea of thinking being visible. I have always liked the apprenticeship model.

The introduction of new technologies to classrooms has offered new insights about the roles of teachers in promoting learning (McDonald and Naso, 1986; Watts, 1985). Technology can give teachers license to experiment and tinker (Means and Olson, 1995a; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995). It can stimulate teachers to think about the processes of learning, whether through a fresh study of their own subject or a fresh perspective on students’ learning. It softens the barrier between what students do and what teachers do.

When teachers learn to use a new technology in their classrooms, they model the learning process for students; at the same time, they gain new insights on teaching by watching their students learn. Moreover, the transfer of the teaching role from teacher to student often occurs spontaneously during efforts to use computers in classrooms. (226)

Sometimes we forget how long it took us to learn to do something because it’s been so long since we learned it. Learning something new, even if it isn’t technology, keeps us involved and remembering the process.

“At the University of Illinois, James Levin asks his education graduate students to develop web pages with their evaluations of education resources on the web, along with hot links to those web resources they consider most valuable. Many students not only put up these web pages, but also revise and maintain them (227) after the course is over. Some receive tens of thousands of hits on their web sites each month (Levin et al., 1994; Levin and Waugh, 1998)” (228).

While I think this is unlikely to continue, unless students are considering the net their memory space, the more practical we can be in our assignments, the more likely our students are to find them useful. …Unfortunately sometimes they are very practical but the students are not yet aware of that.

“The process of using technology to improve learning is never solely a technical matter, concerned only with properties of educational hardware and software. Like a textbook or any other cultural object, technology resources for education—whether a software science simulation or an interactive reading exercise—function in a social environment, mediated by learning conversations with peers and teachers” (230).

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Assessing Student Composition

by Dr Davis on June 13, 2014

Sorapure, Madeline. “Between Modes: Assessing Student New Media Compositions.” Kairos 10.2 (Spring 2006): 1-15. Web. 12 May 2012.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“I suggest an assessment strategy that focuses on the effectiveness with which modes such as image, text, and sound are brought together or, literally, composed. Moreover, I propose that we draw on our familiarity with rhetorical tropes—and specifically with the tropes of metaphor and metonymy—to provide us with a language with which to talk to our students about the effectiveness of their work” (Sorapure 2).

“[W]e are at a transitional stage in the process of incorporating new media into our composition courses” (Sorapure 2).

“A broadly rhetorical approach can accommodate these differences—that is, an approach that focuses assessment on how effectively the project addresses a specific audience to achieve a specific purpose. The weakness of a broad rhetorical approach is that it doesn’t in itself offer any specific guidance or criteria for handling the multimodal aspects of the composition” (Sorapure 3).

Assessing how students design relations between modes appeals to me on practical grounds because it addresses of the two most common problems I’ve seen in the new media compositions my students have done. First, some students seem inclined to match modes, so that, for instance, a Flash project will have a song playing in the background while on the screen the lyrics to the song appear along with images depicting exactly what the lyrics say. While some repetition across modes may be useful in focusing attention or highlighting key ideas, too much mode matching diminishes the potential of multimedia composing by, in essence, leveling the modes so that they each express something more or less equivalent. Productive tension between modes here is at a minimum. (Sorapure 4)

“The opposite sort of problem occurs when students include an element in a project simply because it looks good or because it is a cool effect, despite the fact that the element adds nothing to the meaning of the project and bears little, if any, relation to the other components of the project” (Sorapure 5).

“Metaphor designates a relation based on substitution; in a multimodal work, one mode can metaphorically represent or stand in for another, as when an animation of a word dynamically represents its meaning. It is a relation based on similarity between elements in different modes” (Sorapure 5).
“similarity and substitution” (Sorapure 5)

“Metonymy designates a relation based on combination; modes can be metonymically related when they are linked by an association, as when lines from a poem are combined with a melody from a song. It is a relation based on contiguity between elements in different modes” (Sorapure 5).
“contiguity and association” (Sorapure 6)

assignment = create a collage using Photoshop
The collage was to illustrate a particular quote (Sorapure 6).

Sorapure gives four student examples and discusses them in detail. This is useful for teachers who have not had this kind of assignment, as well as anyone trying to follow her argument (7-10).

Sorapure also discusses one multimodal project and two professional projects (11-14).

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