Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments

In her essay “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments”, Mary E. Hocks discusses how digital environments are designed with features like “audience stance, transparency, and hybridity” (629). The ” visual and interactive nature of native hypertext and multimedia writing” (629) makes it difficult for scholars to distinguish words from visuals, as Hocks suggests “Interactive digital texts can blend words and visuals  talk and text, and authors and audiences in ways that are recognizably postmodern (630). She references ” Gary Heba’s delineation of how html authoring mirrors rhetorical processes for composition” (630) and ” Patricia Sullivan’s arguments that expand our definitions of electronic writing to include graphics, screen design, and other media form” (630). The work of early professionals in “technical communication” that “demonstrated how rhetorical decisions impact the visual design of an online document or system” (630) alerted scholars  to think about the visual aspect of writing. Anne Wysocki stated that “computer-based interactive media can now blend text and images so thoroughly that they are indistinguishable on the screen (2010)” (630). These arguments have convinced teachers to redefine what we consider to be  writing. Hocks introduces the idea of interpreting new media as “hybrid forms” . As students we “look at artifacts such as online games or Web sites” (630) and we make  “assumptions about gender, age, nationality, or other identity categories” (630). Hocks states that all writing is hybrid that “it is at once verbal, spatial, and visual.” (631).  As interactive digital media has become a part of college writing courses, writing is now  “internetworked writing”-writing that involves the intertwining of production, interaction, and publication in the online classroom or professional workplace as well as advocating for these rhetorical acts and, conversely, the one’s online audiences”(631). In online writing, teachers want us to recognize the “rhetorical features of these highly visual digital environments” (631). Hocks wants to highlight “key features of visual rhetoric”.

Source: www.liveadmins.com


She presents three terms Audience Stance, Transparency, and Hybridity to “describe how visual rhetoric operates in digital writing environments” (632).  Audience Stance is defined as “The ways in which the audience is invited to participate in online documents and the ways in which the author creates an ethos that requires, encourages, or even discourages different kinds of interactivity for that audience” (632). Transparency is “the ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages” (632). Hybridity is ” The ways in which online documents combine and construct visual and verbal designs” (632).

Black Gentrification in Atlanta Neighborhoods

Barbara, Combs. “The Ties That Bind: The Role of Place in Racial Identity Formation, Social Cohesion, Accord, and Discord in Two Historic, Black Gentrifying Atlanta Neighborhoods.” SOCIOLOGY DISSERTATIONS(2010): 1–407. Print.

Map of gentrified neighborhoods in Atlanta. Source: clatl.com

In her dissertation Barbara Combs of Georgia State University, discusses the phenomenon of “black gentrification” in  Atlanta neighborhoods. She proposes that “black gentrification” is similar to mainstream gentrification, in exception that  “black gentrifying neighborhoods both the poor and working class residents who resided in the neighborhood prior to its gentrification and the new residents of greater economic means are black” (2). In this case it distinguishes from mainstream gentrification  because “black gentrifiers in black gentrifying neighborhoods often feel a responsibility or obligation to their lower income black neighbors” (2). Combs argues that “attachment to the neighborhood space …(place affinity ) has the potential to obviate social tensions in gentrifying black communities and bind residents to each other and the social space they all occupy” (3). She explores ways to ” strengthen social and economic cohesion in these gentrifying black communities” (3).

Metro Atlanta neighborhoods faced economic decline due to the U.S. recession. The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 made funds available to refurbish homes that were vacated or foreclosed. However,  an “Atlanta Journal Constitution article appearing January 25, 2010, Federal officials say Atlanta is moving too slowly spending $12.3 million it got last March to buy vacant homes in neighborhoods ravaged by foreclosures (Stirgus 2010)” (20). Combs the gentrification taking place in the two Atlanta neighborhoods under study…against the findings of Larry Keating and the Gentrification Task Force Committee on Gentrification.” (23). Although whites are moving into gentrifying communities the racial composition remains predominately black. Combs suggests ” African Americans have played a key role in the development and maintenance of black communities” (25). Post-segregation African Americans were afforded new housing options due to Civil legislation. Many remained in the inner city due to ” rising gasoline prices and commute times, proximity to amenities, quality of life” (25).

Sociologists have begun to research the impact of place. race, and class have on black gentrification. Combs states “overarching goal of this dissertation is to determine the potential for place attachment” (3), meaning what compels lower income residents to stay within black communities that have social tension. This essay addresses how the demographics in Atlanta neighborhoods shapes identity of a space, Patricia Hill Collins describes”everyone has a race/gender/class specific identity,” and everyone is simultaneously “being oppressed and oppressor” (Collins, 1993: 28)” (118). Combs defines spaces as a physical construct that”includes things like buildings, streets, and natural structures as well as aspects of physical proximity or location in relation to other fixed, bounded geographical areas or things” (183). While place is socially constructed  “comprised of the social, historical, cultural, educational, economic, business, religious, and other institutions in the area” (183). She is interested in how these factors foster “place attachment”.

Museums and Technology Discriminate the Disabled

Lisney, Eleanor et al. “Museums and Technology: Being Inclusive Helps Accessibility for All.” 56.3 (2013): p353–361. Web.

Source: art.emich.edu

The authors of this article “Museums and Technology: Being Inclusive Helps Accessibility for All” ,who are  academic and three disability-and-access practitioners, discuss  “accessibility issues for museums in the context of growing dependence on technology”. Eleanor Lisney references “recent installations at the Herbert” that meshes 3D experiences with the real world, however artist Stelarc , lecturer Joff Chafer, and artist and technologist Ian Upton did not consider this exhibit is not accessible for people with visual impairments. Maria Zedda mentions the Equality Act of 2010 that stated one in five people in the United Kingdom are disabled yet museums are becoming less accessible to the blind and deaf through technological advancements. The authors speak from their own personal experiences “the aim of this paper is to provide museums with a disabled person’s point of view, which could help in inspiring improvements for the future”. This source is useful because it shows an issue from the perspective of the discriminated group and allows the reader to rethink about the way we interact in high tech environments and how it may be difficult for those with disabilities.

Art Accessibility

Douglas, Houston, and Ong Paul. “Arts Accessibility to Major Museums and Cultural/ethnic Institutions in Los Angeles: Can School Tours Overcome Neighborhood Disparities?” Environment and Planning A 45 (2013): 728 – 748. Print.

Source: Metro.net

Douglas Huston of the Department of Planning, Policy and Design, School of Social Ecology, at the University of California and Paul Ong of Department of Urban Planning, School of Public Affairs, at the University of California Los Angeles discuss “arts participation within metropolitan areas and how it varies across institutions and different forms of engagement ” (728) in their article “Arts Accessibility to Major Museums and Cultural/ ethical Institutions in Los Angeles: Can School Tours Overcome Neighborhood Disparities?”. They propose ” sociocultural distance separates disadvantaged communities from arts and cultural institutions, given that many have historically been dominated by Eurocentric perspectives and are often perceived as highbrow and exclusive”(729). They cite research that states “individuals who are more affluent, have higher educational attainment, and/or who are White are more likely to attend an arts or cultural institution or event, watch or listen to arts or culture through media, or participate in a hands-on arts activity” (730).  The 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts found “whites nationwide were more likely to have attended an art museum” (730). In their article, Huston and Ong’s purpose is to “suggest that institutions should redouble efforts to overcome sociocultural and geographic barriers” (728). This article is useful because it addresses the accessibly of art museums based on culture and geographic location.

Robert Woodruff’s Impact on the Future of Atlanta

Andrew, Land. “The Social and Civic Impacts of Robert Winship Woodruff in the City of Atlanta During the 1960s.” Thesis, Clemson, 2007.http://tigerprints.clemson.edu/all_theses/103/.

Robert Woodruff Source: Woodruff.org

Andrew Land, who received an MFA in History at Clemson University, discusses in his article, “The Social and Civic Impacts of Robert Winship Woodruff in the City of Atlanta During the 1960s”, Robert Woodruff’s efforts “to combat poverty, make slum areas more livable, and provide cultural and art venues for Atlanta’s citizens.” He notes Woodruff’s extensive wealth and addresses how “Woodruff’s power, such as it was, was not wasted.  Rather, it was expended on issues close to his ideals and close to him personally” (49).  In particular, Woodruff sympathized with black residents in Atlanta communities and “Woodruff’s sense of civic obligation was tremendous; he had equally grand plans for the future of Atlanta” (56). Land’s purpose is to raise awareness about the contributions Woodruff made to Atlanta by building infrastructure, making it  one of the greatest cities in the South. This article provides the reader with an overview of the history of Atlanta’s conception and the actions leaders like Robert Woodruff and Ivan Allen took to build our future.

Subliminal Exclusion: Discrimination Through the Built Environment

In Sarah Schindler’s article “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment” she discusses how people of color and poor people are disadvantaged due to restricted built environments. The first part of her article defines “architectural exclusion” as “man- made physical features that make it difficult for certain individuals…to access certain places” (1934).


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Margret Morton’s Underground Photography: The Bridge Between Life and Art

In “Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York” Nersessova discusses how Morton’s work displays the human’s connection to space and self-representational architecture.  To begin her analysis she mentions twentieth century Marxist ideals created by the Situationist International. Morton showed principles that were against capitalism and mainstream society or Continue reading