Monday, December 9, 2019

Spring 2020 --> New Course Description! MALAS/RWS Seminar | Visual Rhetoric with Cezar Ornatowski

Coming in Spring 2020
Tuesday 7:00-9:40 pm
Prof. Cezar Ornatowski

Visuality has in recent years become a major focus of interest in a variety of fields (rhetoric, communication, cultural studies, literary, and science studies). With the spread of global electronic communication technologies, visuality became the major form of communication, as well as the most manipulated one. The power of images lies in their presence and vividness and in their ability to directly impact our emotions. Because of that, images have become major tools of communication, social action, and political struggle, while in the context of science and knowledge discovery visualization has become a powerful strategy for involving high-level human intelligence in the process of exploring new phenomena.

Visual artifacts may be examined from three complementary perspectives:

  • a semiotic perspective: the nature and working of the visual sign itself
  • a systemic perspective: visuality as a communication system that involves specific technologies, media, and techniques of production, reproduction, manipulation, circulation, and reception
  • a rhetorical/communication perspective that involves practices of seeing and looking, analysis of persuasive effects of visual artifacts, as well as examination of their deployments in politics, culture, advertising, knowledge discovery, and so on.

The course will begin with the exploration of still images (photographs, paintings, etc.), which will allow us to introduce such basic analytic concepts as the visual sign, icon, index, symbol, connotation, denotation, code, vector, visual composition, framing, paradigm, and syntagm. We will then proceed to look at film, including a brief history of the development of filmic discourse, and apply some of these concepts to analyze filmic discourse. The course will include two brief student presentations -- on a selected image and a selected film or video – using some of the analytic concepts we covered.

Since the course is cross-listed between RWS and MALAS, it does not assume any special prior knowledge of rhetoric or rhetorical theory; we will introduce such concepts as needed while we proceed, and I will include a few more specialized separate readings for
RWS graduate students.