Building the New Babel by both Verbal and Visual communications: Collage, Play, Simulation, and the Like in Postmodernity

Dr. Hocks’ paper immediately draws my attention because she corporates the contemporary rhetorical practices in both texts and visuals with the rhetorical tradition of the rhetor and the audience(629-630). With a postmodern perspective of the intertextuality between texts and visuals, I cannot agree more with her statement that texts and visuals are inseparable in multimedia composition, which requires a new definition of writing rather than holding fast to the old definition of verbal composition(630). Flattering seems a little bit insincere, but I really feel that if other readings mention even once on the way of thinking, I would have found my answer to a new definition of writing.

Our thinking pattern of dividing things into binary opposites rather than viewing things as both or “hybrid,” according to Dr. Hocks, is the main reason why some people in our field cannot accept the new writing notion that contains both texts and visuals, which directly affects their writing pedagogies(630-631). Her hybrids including the one of the author and the reader reminds me of Anderson’s “prosumer” in his multimodal composition, and the interactions among the five canons in Yancey’s paper. Her call for attention in multi-modalities such as touch and sound is of vital importance to any analysis of digital rhetoric(631). I am doing an investigation on the rhetorical features of Chinese and US advertisements, and I think this piece will give me a solid logical and theoretical foundation.

Dr. Hocks’ paper answers two questions, which are also my questions after several week’s readings:

1.How does the textual and visual elements work together to achieve rhetorical effects?

2. How do we teach visual rhetoric in our classrooms?

My first question came along writing my proposal topic to ATTW this year. I want to analyze the rhetorical differences between Chinese and US advertisements and find out whether the myth of “high-context” and “low-context” is true by analyzing the rhetorical canons and rhetorical techniques as displayed in the advertisements. Then, when it comes to the analysis of advertisements, I automatically divided them into two: textual and visual, which made me confused on how to evaluate the latter part. Now I know that my first impression of not dividing them should be right. I asked the second question because sometimes it is hard to outline the rubrics of visual rhetoric because it engages aesthetics, design, architecture, performing arts, and so on. I think I am not too bad at analyzing performing arts such dancing and singing, but I know a little about architecture, even less in designing except that I am interested in fashion. I think I will have to do a lot of homework before I can embark on teaching my students how to have a good taste of designing their multimedia and multimodal composition. Maybe I should start with reading books on aesthetics and design.

Both of my questions are related to the last question in my post on digital identities(September 13th). Whether it is harder for us to learn nowadays as students and teachers than our ancestors? Obviously, it is not easy when we have to not only try to analyze things as binary opposites, but also try to look at them as hybrids; to value both verbal and visual texts as part of our literacies and part of the process to construct our identities to execute power in composition. The postmodernist trend of collage, play, simulation, and the like requires us to accept a pluralism that is unprecedented and increasingly diverse. Our swollen nerves are undergoing a postmodern quake that seems to melt everything together, yet seems to divide things apart. With a big question mark in our minds we learn and value, even if there will always be open-ended questions, we do not bother.

What I want to explore is how to apply rhetoric cannons and rhetoric modes to my future projects. It is really difficult to melt theory into practice like what Dr. Hocks have done in her piece. I think it is no easy task for me.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ellah1
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 19:19:28

    I love the way you incorporate visual elements into your writings each week. I, too, found myself thinking about “High Context” and “Low Context” this week.


  2. valerievisual
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 03:13:39

    I have a book to recommend. I am also interested in the cannons and how they apply to our visually saturated culture. I picked up a book called Lingua Fracta and it explores a remix of the cannons in New Media. It’s by Collin Gifford Brooke. I’d let you borrow it, but I’m still reading it. But so far, it’s really helpful.


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