RHE 315: Course Description
RHE 315 is a course designed to teach you to analyze and explore visual and non-verbal forms of rhetoric. It remains, first and foremost, a writing class, but one immersed in issues of culture, design, and visual literacy. RHE 315 is distinguished from other lower-division writing classes in its constant attention to a type of argument rather than a single course content (there is no focus on a single set of issues or a topic as is common in 309K or 309S). Students in RHE 315 will use rhetoric as a lens to understand a variety of visual texts as persuasive efforts. They will learn some aspects of producing visual argumentation (photography, graphic design, tables and graphs, new and old media), but they will mostly learn about the application of rhetorical analysis to visual texts. Assignments typically involve the analysis and sometimes the construction of visual arguments set in specific contexts and with particular audiences in mind.
NOTE: Teaching Visual Rhetoric in Networked Environments
Instructors of RHE 315 may find that various Web 2.0 technologies and online resources can help them teach visual rhetoric and make it easier for students to write about visual arguments. In a blog, for example, students can easily embed pictures and video within their text. Some instructors have designed assignments in which students create customized maps using Google Maps. Such assignments allow students to make spatially oriented arguments that combine a map with text and embedded images. Another application that can help students create arguments combining images and text is Pachyderm, which students can use to compose interactive presentations with linked pages, each of which can contain images, text, and other content. All of these applications and platforms let students create their own visual arguments or rhetorical analyses of visual texts. Digital Media Services (DMS) in the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment can help students set up Pachyderm accounts. Staff members from DMS can visit classes to deliver tutorials in using Pachyderm and a wide range of other digital-media applications, and they will assist any class, even one that is not taught in the CWRL.
Social networking software can also be useful in visual rhetoric courses, especially if the instructor would like to have students participate in collaborative projects. A wiki can be a good tool for students to create an archive of online visual arguments over the course of a semester. Social bookmarking sites like Delicious (www.delicious.com) and Diigo (www.diigo.com) can similarly help a class collaboratively build an archive of visual arguments and related material. Sites like these allow multiple people to bookmark Web pages and add tags and descriptions that categorize the pages.
Finally, online resources can help instructors with planning visual-rhetoric courses and lesson plans. The DRW’s visual-rhetoric blog, Viz., contains a section on visual-rhetoric theory and a number of assignments that instructors can use. One of the most helpful sections for instructors is the “Visual Rhetoric Introduction,” which includes a PowerPoint presentation created under a Creative Commons license. The site also contains a large number of advertisements and other examples of visual rhetoric that CWRL instructors have posted, along with brief discussions and links to related information.