Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin


Unmarking Death

Debra Estes, from Stephen Chalmers's Unmarked series

Image Credit: Stephen Chalmers

H/T: Lauren Gantz

Death is often in the news, whether it involves major singers, local Austin celebrities, or Twitter death hoaxes.  Yet when we visualize death, it’s typically in memorials, not actual pictures of dead bodies.  We’ve come some ways from the Victorian memento mori photographs which attempted to render the corpse vital and to serve, as Jamie Fraser notes, “as a keepsake to remember the deceased.”  While traditional burial practices, which use embalming fluids to delay putrefaction and decomposition, likewise make the corpse appear as lifelike as possible, most people don’t make hair rings or take pictures of the dead to remember them.  In this way, we remember the dead as not dead—as lively.

Sex Sells?: Reading Romance Over the Covers

Kristine Mills-Noble looks at cover art

Image Credit: Screencap from Vimeo

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

I thought after my last post on Ryan Gosling that I’d be able to move on to more academic subjects, but when I saw Andrew Sullivan’s post on “The Market for Romance” I couldn’t let it pass. In my Women’s Popular Genres literature class last year I taught Fay Weldon’s wickedly funny novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, which tells the story of Ruth, a woman who gets revenge on her husband after he leaves her for a romance novelist. I wanted to pair it with an actual romance novel, but wasn’t sure I could find something that would sustain close reading. However, I think a rhetorical approach to the romance novel—especially its cover—reveals some interesting things.

Calendar Boys, Beefcake Girls: Photographing the Bodies We Want

Rion Sabean, posed as a pin-up girl, with cordless drill

Image Credit: Rion Sabean

H/T: Melanie Haupt

My favorite way to take a break from dissertation research is to visit Facebook.  Some days, I’m lucky enough to be entertained by my friends, as when Melanie Haupt posted a provocative link to an article about male pin-ups.

Remember Me: Iconic Photography and Representations of 9/11

Screenshot from trailer for<br />
2010 film Remember Me

Image Credit:  Screenshot from YouTube

When my friend Lauren pointed out to me the following TED video on “photos that changed the world,” I thought that it would be good material for viz.  What I hadn’t realized was where Jonathan Klein’s claims would take my thinking.  In his talk, Klein talks about the potential political effects of what he refers to as “iconic” images:  “We're looking for images that shine an uncompromising light on crucial issues, images that transcend borders, that transcend religions, images that provoke us to step up and do something, in other words, to act.”

Sontag on Photography

Susan Sontag: from On Photography to Regarding the Pain of Others    

sontag book cover Read more about Sontag on Photography

Image as argument


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