Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

9/11 Report -- Graphic Novel vs. Authorized Edition

Students in my Rhetoric of Spying Class recently read sections of the 9/11 Commission Report, along with the graphic novel version of the report (for a thorough discussion of the graphic novel version and its critics, including some great links, click here).

World Freedom Atlas

The World Freedom Atlas gathers a number of interesting datasets related to world politics and human rights and converts them into a dynamic map display. Interestingly, the visual display helps to foreground the rhetorical choices made by the authors of those datasets. For instance, the map below displays a country’s governmental structure, ranging from a parliamentary democracy (white) to monarchic dictatorship (dark blue) (Cheibub and Gandhi, 2004). Notice that the U.S., a presidential democracy, falls in the middle of the classification scheme, closer to the dictatorships than Canada and Australia, which are both white, as well as Russia, which is a light teal.

world map showing Cheibub and Gandhi's regime institutions via Information Aesthetics

Blogger Play Photos

I just came across this nifty new feature from blogspot called "Blogger Play." Its designers describe Blogger Play as "a real-time slideshow of photos Blogger users have recently uploaded to their blogs. It's a great snapshot of what people are thinking and posting about, right now!" While it may not actually be as exciting as their exclamation point suggests, it's still pretty mesmerizing. Most of the photos are pretty mundane, lots of them are weird, and of course there are tons and tons of baby pictures.

“A Soviet Poster A Day” delivers propaganda with commentary

A Soviet Poster A Day” serves up images of Soviet propaganda posters with commentary. This site would be a great resource for anyone studying propagandistic images. Here’s an entry on the Five Year Plan: Read more about “A Soviet Poster A Day” delivers propaganda with commentary

There's Enargeia and then there's *Enargeia*

Over at No Caption Needed, Robert Hariman pieced together a rather precise visual argument by sequencing a series of images from 9/11 and the war in Iraq. While we could spend many a blog entry on the imagery of terror and war or on the function of visual images in argument, the Hariman sequence seems to provide an excellent in-class opportunity to dwell on the different persuasive registers present in visual communication and political speeches that invoke the same imagery.

What are you gonna wear?

PikiWiki: Drag and drop collaboration

PikiWiki is a free wiki service that adds drag and drop functionality to collaboratively-edited pages. If you are planning on using a wiki in your visual rhetoric class, PikiWiki might be a good option. Read more about PikiWiki: Drag and drop collaboration

‘Robot Chicken’ deconstructs ‘Law & Order’

chicken judge

When I teach writing, I like to occasionally give my students imitation exercises to point out the features of a particular text. Robot Chicken, Seth Green’s stop-motion-animation show, has provided a pretty funny video example of this practice (my favorite touch is when they bleep out the bad language). It would be interesting to assign this type of video exercise for students to familiarize them with video conventions. See the video here.

Slate serializes ‘Ronald Regan: A Graphic Biography’

If you are teaching comics at all this semester, you might be interested in Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography by Andrew Helfer, Steve Buccellato, and Joe Staton. Slate is serializing the entire text this week. Slate also serialized The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation(it’s no longer available) this time last year. Read more about Slate serializes ‘Ronald Regan: A Graphic Biography’

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