“Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments

Because technology is evolving at such a fast pace and quickly becoming accepted as a formal writing space, training on writing for digital spaces is becoming a necessity. In her writing “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments: Mary Hocks explains the importance of teaching visual rhetoric to students, which is explained in three categories: transparency, audience stance, and hybridity.

Hybridity is explained as incorporating different forms of media into online writing to make reading the work more pleasurable and riveting. The combination of text and media can include visuals, videos, graphs, embedded web pages, interactive modules and even sounds. Including media compels readers to completely delve themselves into the reading which makes it easier to see the meaning and understand the author, not to mention also keeping the reader engaged.

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Social Media site Tumblr.com allows for users to post multi-modally.

Transparency is defined as “the ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film and Web pages” (632). She backs her support of transparency because it makes the reader feel more connected when the work calls upon other sources stating the same thing. When others are saying the same as you and you cite them it makes your work visibly more credible.

Audience Stance is described by Hocks as the level of interactions received from the audience, what emotions the work brings about, and if it possibly discourages them from reacting certain ways. Each work created, if done properly can subtly bring about feelings in readers or construct mindsets. Hock uses evidence from other studies which prove that the interface and multi-modality of a work can compel readers to challenge themselves.

The study of audience stance also looks at how to keep different people engaged no matter the background. Hock gives us a look inside a study done where a group of students were asked to create a website answering a question. The students made the site intricately which allowed for students and adults alike were completely intrigued and engaged. They did this by including an interactive forum to engage students, and Shakespearean sources to engage the adult readers.

Including media in the digital writings enhanced students’ enhanced the students’ thinking because they had to carefully map out how things would flow in the work and present the visual information in a way that would engage the audience. Creating multimodal works also is beneficial to students because it is challenging yet it “leads students to a new understanding of how designed spaces and artifacts impact audiences”.

Mary Hock’s call for students to be taught how to incorporate various forms of media  into their digital works as it benefits the engagement levels of the reader.

Hocks, Mary E. “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments.” College Composition and Communication 2003: 629. JSTOR Journals. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

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