Looking Back at Viz.

As the DWRL bids farewell to Viz., its award-winning visual rhetoric blog, we look back at this popular publication and its place in the field of visual rhetoric.

In 2005, two years before the founding of Viz., Sonja K. Foss had observed in her “Theory of Digital Rhetoric” that, in light of recent developments in visual rhetoric,  “visual rhetoric” should, in fact, be defined two ways: as the creation of a visual object or artifact, and as the analysis of those objects.

In the first sense, visual rhetoric is a product individuals create as they use visual symbols for the purpose of communicating. In the second, it is a perspective scholars apply that focuses on the symbolic processes by which images perform communication.

From its earliest days, Viz. aimed to address both these aspects of visual rhetoric, particularly in the context of emerging digital literacies. Contributors sought out available tools  for the creation of compelling visual argument, and determined how to best implement those tools in the classroom; they also looked at existing digital images and artifacts and wondered how interpretive frameworks might account for the existence of memes, .gifs, and other digitally-born visual objects. The lesson: images make unintended arguments.

The decision to retire the Viz., occasioned by the re-structuring of our staff, gives the DWRL an opportunity to return to the original focus and intent of the site. Our aim is to incorporate the study of visual rhetoric—both the production and analysis of visual communication in digital environments—into every aspect of our broad research agenda.

In the upcoming semester, you can expect to find visual content in each of our research areas: Social Media, Multimodal Writing, and Locative Media.

Our Social Media research team, looking at activist Twitter, plans to both produce infographics and data visualizations and analyze uses of visual rhetoric on Twitter; our Locative Media team, focusing on augmented reality, will account for visual rhetoric while designing an augmented reality app; and our Multimodal Writing team, engaging with typography, will consider the visual rhetoric of font and typeface.

We encourage you to explore the Viz. archives, and we hope you will return throughout the semester for new visual content, right on the DWRL homepage.

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