ENGL 15: Image and Rhetoric
As a way of thinking rigorously and broadly about rhetoric and writing, this course will unpack the various connections between persuasion and the phenomenon of the image. We will examine this relationship from multiple angles: how do visual images function rhetorically? How do they operate differently from text or speech? But also: how does persuasion, even in plain text, depend on the phenomenon of the image? How does persuasive writing conjure images in its audience’s heads, and how do those images embody or enable the act of persuasion? And: why are images so powerful in human culture, to the point that we go to war for flags, threaten violence over cartoons, and regulate or outright censor various kinds of visual depictions? What makes the image so potent, and how might it help us understand rhetoric more broadly? En route to addressing these questions, we will encounter photography, comics, painting, film, writing, speech; we will think about fiction, non-fiction, and various points in between; we will wade into debates about the production, consumption, and circulation of various kinds of images. In so doing, we will illuminate both the rhetoric of images and the images at the heart of rhetoric, and along the way, we will sharpen our own rhetorical, compositional, and stylistic toolkits.