Visual Rhetoric

Professor: Dr. Brooke Hessler
Email: bhessler@okcu.edu
Box: Walker Center (WC) 248
Office: WC 214
Office Hours: MWF 10-11 AM and by appt.
Office Phone: 405-521-5330

Course Purpose & Scope
Our course is an enriched version of Composition II designed to challenge you to communicate visually as well as textually. Through a series of individual and collaborative research and writing projects, you will:

  • Extend the academic research and writing knowledge you learned in Composition I (including the development and analysis of summaries, reports, and arguments);
  • Employ a range of rhetorical strategies to analyze and create visual texts;
  • Identify and interpret the rhetorical strategies inherent in everyday images, places, and things;
  • Become familiar with many of the ways visual literacy is employed in academic disciplines and in professional communication.

To deepen and apply this knowledge, you will participate in a very special community service learning project: helping the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center build its online “virtual archive” of artifacts that have been collected at the site to communicate the personal and societal impact of terrorism. Your role as a Virtual Archivist will involve selecting, interpreting, photographing, and writing about those objects in order to help school children and other visitors acquire a deeper understanding of the Memorial and its significance to people in and far beyond our city.

Credit hours earned for the course: 3.0. Prerequisite: ENGL 1113.

Required Texts
Seeing and Writing by Donald McQuade & Christina McQuade
The Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker (or a similar handbook)

Required Materials & Resources
-An active email account from Jan 15 to May 10.
-Knowledge of your OCU student username and password.
-Two diskettes (to back up your document files).
-An ample supply of paper and pens. (We will write during every class)
-Transportation to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center (downtown), and the ability to visit that site approximately 4 times for 3 4 hours per visit.

Assignments & Grading
-Web Board Postings Ongoing 15%
-Multiple Perspectives Presentation, Jan 22 (W) or Jan 24 (F) = 10%
-Virtual Archive Project (Team)*, Multiple deadlines = 30%
-Visual Report on the Archive Project (Individual or Team)**, TBD = 20%
-Research Paper Incorporating Visual Rhetoric, May 7 (W) = 25%

*The Virtual Archive Project will include at least two draft review cycles with peer review boards in class and with OKC Memorial Center curators before the final due date.

**The Visual Report will be completed as an entity in the Honors Research Poster Contest. You are welcome to compose your research poster individually or as part of a team.

Assessing Your Growth as a Visual and Verbal Rhetorician
As you can see from the assignment listing above, each project asks you to demonstrate your ability to compose information both verbally and visually within a different genre (including web texts, an oral presentation, a poster, and an academic research paper). I will evaluate your work according to the three main categories of rhetorical development: ethos, pathos, and logos. (These terms will become very familiar by the end of the semester!) You will also evaluate your work and assess your progress: through reflective writing, peer reviews, and in class surveys. I will periodically use your evaluations to tailor our class activities to your learning goals.


Oklahoma City National Memorial Service Learning Projects

Teaching Trunks
This team will help children learn about the Oklahoma City bombing and the National Memorial from multiple perspectives. Using images and words, you will tell one or more of the following stories: the role of search and rescue dogs, the significance of the Survivor Tree, the symbolism underlying the thousands of origami cranes given to the Memorial Center. Your tasks will include selecting photographs and writing text to accompany each photograph: creating a narrative that will capture the attention of the children and educate them. Your project will be included with other artifacts and teaching materials in special trunks that are being transported to schools in Oklahoma and throughout the U.S.

Symbolic Quilt
This team will tell the story of a remarkable quilt created by people around the United States who contributed individual pieces to represent their personal response to the Oklahoma City bombing, and their messages of hope to the survivors and their families. To share this quilt with the world, you will photograph it (in its entirety, with close ups of especially interesting or important squares), read the letters of the individual artists who contributed each square, and compose text to accompany the photographs in the Memorial’s virtual archive. This project will involve a little detective work: you will need to use the information contained in the letters to match the quilt squares with their stories and symbols.

Jim Lange Cartoons
This team will interview Daily Oklahoman cartoonist Jim Lange about the cartoons he created to communicate about the Oklahoma City bombing and its affect on our community. Your project will include developing, conducting, and possibly videotaping the interview, photographing a collection of his cartoons, and composing a short Lange biography and other text to accompany the cartoons. The project will be published in the Virtual Archives.

Treasured Objects
This team will research and write about some of the special objects that belonged to the victims and survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing. You will photograph each object, research the significance of the object, and compose text to accompany it. The images and stories will be displayed in the Virtual Archives.