Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

Visual Rhetoric

Educated Wine? Or: How to Feed Your Elitism with Booze

Hypothesis Wine

Image Credit: Roots Run Deep Winery

I don't know anything about wine. I know there are reds and whites, and I know that, thankfully, they don't give me migraines.

And I'm not picky. Give me something that isn’t too acidic, nothing too sweet, and I'm happy enough to grade some student papers. But I'll admit that—when I’m choosing wine myself—I choose it entirely on one qualification, and one only: the label.

Girly Drinks and Heteronormativity

Image Credit: girly-drinks.com

Why do we think of certain drinks as “girly?” It's common to use this category when we talk about alcohol. Popular TV shows like Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother portray male characters being mocked for ordering girly drinks, or using their female partners as camouflage in order to obtain them.  Social media users label pictures of pink, umbrella-d beverages with the hashtag “#girlydrink.” Magazines publish articles giving their spin on girly drinks, like Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Girly Drinks We’re Not Ashamed to Love.” 

Pets, Pain, & Pigs

 

Photo shows exterior of the restaurant Foreign & Domestic, which features a pig with wings.

Image credit: Foreign & Domestic, by Aimee Wenske

As Deb noted in the last viz. post, recently many social media users have taken to posting photos of animals, usually puppies and kittens, as a means to demonstrate empathy in times of (both personal and public) trauma and tragedy. Animals may help us deal with our pain even in their visual form. (In person, they certainly benefit us!) I’m interested in how this use of animal visuals as an antidote to pain relates to the popular use of animal figures to sell the food we eat, such as the currently hip image of the pig. 

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Browsing Between Cute Baby Animals and Tragedy

Image Credit: klaynexas 3, escapistmagazine.com 

          A post that links to images of cute animals is a common sight on Facebook these days. We share articles such as “13 Pictures of Humans Hugging Animals That Will Make You Feel Better” and “27 Baby Animals That Will Instantly Make Your Day Better.” Within the articles, these images are framed in terms of how they make the reader feel, how they will comfort us and raise us from whatever mental state (by implication, a negative one) we were in when we found them.

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The Serpent Was a Creeper: Religious Representations of Animals and Humanity in Children's Literature


First Serpent

Image Credit: The Little Picture Bible, by Isabella Child

When I was a child, I liked to imagine Adam in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by docile beasts as he handed out names like candy. "Elephant," he'd say--and I liked wondering whether Elephant was a proper noun, the name “Elephant," or simply a category. Elephant would smile gratefully and lumber to the back of the group so that Adam could see and name his next subject.

“Rueful Reluctance:” An Unwitting Cat Owner’s Search for Meaning Among Memes


Image Credit: "Nyan Cat-Pop Tart Cat," by Chris Torres

Last week, my neighbor stopped by to tell me that he was moving, and that pets were not allowed at his new residence.  With all due histrionics, he lamented the fact that he was going to take her to the shelter, and that “unless anybody here wants to adopt her, [insert overly dramatic sigh] I guess she’ll probably be put down.”

The Austin Zen Center's Garden as a Model for Austin

AZC

(Image Credit: Jay Voss)

Nothing sums up the best of Austin’s landscape gardening tastes like the garden at the Austin Zen Center. Located on West 31st Street between Guadalupe and Lamar, the Austin Zen Center’s garden is impressive any time of year. Every plant in the garden is native. The vegetation in the garden never, ever receives sprinkler water. The entire growing space is focused around a gorgeous old live oak tree, like a dry landscape garden is focused around a sizable boulder. It’s only when you look at the Austin Zen Center’s garden twice that you notice the massive live oak isn’t centered on the acreage – that it seems to do so is only an illusion. Everything in the garden is clean, pure, and honest, and a steadfast commitment to these virtues on the part of those who care for the landscape has the effect of producing a space that is harmonious and seemingly balanced.

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Beyonce's ***Flawless Feminism

Beyonce confronting the camera in video

Image Credit: Screenshot from "***Flawless" video

I’m so glad to be back on viz again after some time away, especially as having to write posts again gives me the chance to discuss Beyoncé Knowles’s newest record, Beyoncé, which was released without any press or preview in late December as a “visual album.” The album has 14 songs and 17 videos included in it. While critics had things to say about Jay-Z’s verse on “Drunk in Love” and the remixed audio from the 1986 Challenger disaster in “XO,” the most noticeable song was “***Flawless,” which features an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk on feminism. Paste Magazine’s review of the album noted the album’s feminist thematics, which others have discussed as well. Since I’d like to add to this conversation about Beyoncé’s feminism, I thought I’d take up how Beyoncé’s visuals, especially in “***Flawless,” depict those concerns. Read more about Beyonce's ***Flawless Feminism

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