Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

‘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’

Visual resources for teaching Latin American and Border Studies

Mexican laborer's house and 1500 acre cantaloupe ranch adjacent to Mexican border. Imperial Valley, California

UT’s First-Year Forum text for 2007–2008 will be Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway. Yesterday I sat in on a seminar hosted by the DRW where Domino Perez discussed some of the background and context of the issues that the book engages. One theme of the discussion was the influence of film on the Urrea’s prose, as well as how images of Latinos can both support and trouble Urrea’s arguments. In the wake of that discussion, I thought I would post links to some Latin-American and Border Studies visual resources for use by DRW instructors and anyone else who is teaching a class that deals with these fields.

Filet a fish, or: Why do people hate some advertisments?

I’m a big fan of Seth Stevenson’s advertising columns at Slate (he’s going on sabbatical and will be missed). On Monday he posted a new column, where he discusses readers’ submissions for the worst ads on TV. Like a therapist, Stevenson doesn’t so much agree with the contributors as he commiserates with the feelings of anger, betrayal, emptiness and loss directed at or prompted by these advertisements. One question that we can ask ourselves (and our students) is: Why do we care so much about ads? Take this McDonald’s ad for example:

Read more about Filet a fish, or: Why do people hate some advertisments?

Ingmar Bergman’s soap commercials

Slate V has posted nine soap commercials shot by recently deceased film director Ingmar Bergman. As Dana Stevens, Slate’sfilm critic, points out in the commentary below, Bergman’s ads challenged the conventions of most commercials—in one case, Bergman depicts a character being injured by the product, Bris soap.


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Viz.’s inaugural advertising quiz!

Can you guess why these two are so happy?

Happy couple making dinner Is it because A. Online recipes are the best recipes? B. The white powder in that bowl isn’t flour? C. They have a standby electrical generator, so while everyone else in their neighborhood is cold and powerless, they can still surf the web and set their lights to supernova?

Donald Gunn’s 12 Categories of Advertisements

If you are teaching advertising in the visual rhetoric section of your course, you will probably be interested in Donald Gunn’s 12 Categories of Advertisements. Slate’s Seth Stevenson has recently posted a slideshow demonstrating them all.

Visual Search for Wikipedia

The good folks over at Information Aesthetics recently posted a link to Wiki Mind Map. The site provides a mind-map-style outline of topics in Wikipedia.

Screenshot of search for visual rhetoric from

Right now the site appears to be able to search the German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, and Indonesian versions of the encyclopedia. It can also search, which appears to be some sort of German dictionary (perhaps a German-speaker can help out here).

The pixelator

Following up on Nate’s post about retouched photos, The Daily Showhas revealed some contemporary presidential image-retouching:


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Visualizing GDP

I found an interesting post on Reason magazine's Hit & Run blog in which the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of various nations are correlated with the GDPs of US states. The map is a fascinating comment on global economics, and more info on its background is available through the original Hit & Run post.

GDP Map Read more about Visualizing GDP


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