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ERIC Number: ED413603
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Penetrating "Symbolspeak": Reading the Images of Public Discourse.
Smith, Mark
The proliferation and subsequent devaluation of electronic symbols necessitate a rethinking of classroom discourse. In recent years, "visual literacy" has become an issue among those who feel that the increasingly symbolic orientation of communications compels the writing instructor to address the dynamics of both visual and written discourse. These symbols threaten to produce a new type of unexamined and cliched student writing. If writers are to gain (or regain) a vital, relevant discourse, they must approach electronic images in the spirit of Kathleen Welch's "active decoding" (1990) that seeks to familiarize writers with the manipulation that is inherent in symbols. The advent of the World Wide Web, cable television, and desktop publishing has exacerbated the deluge and ensuing devaluation of symbols. Images are now used primarily as shorthand methods of representing information. This new function is particularly evident in advertising--commercial, political, and otherwise. The role of images in persuasion is clear: to evoke an instantaneous impression, requiring minimal reasoning, drawing from the viewer's social and attitudinal stores. A "successful" image is not only simple, but ambiguous. Educators must continue to advocate the active construction and interpretation of texts, bringing images into the classroom, examining their modes of appeal. The preeminence of electronic symbols has added another dimension to classroom discourse, one that reaffirms the classroom's role as a forum of critical thought and active inquiry. (Contains 14 references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A