is the fairly recent development of a theoretical framework describing how visual images
communicate, as opposed to aural
messages. The study of visual rhetoric is different from that of visual or graphic design
, in that it emphasizes images as rational expressions of cultural meaning, as opposed to mere aesthetic
consideration (Kress and van Leeuwen 18).
Visual rhetoric examines also the relationship between images and writing. Some examples of artifacts analyzed by visual rhetoricians are charts, paintings, sculpture, diagrams, web pages, advertisements, movies, architecture, newspapers, photographs, etc.
As shown in the works of the Groupe µ, visual rhetoric is closely related to the older study of semiotics. Semiotic theory seeks to describe the rhetorical significance of sign-making. Visual rhetoric is a broader study, covering all the visual ways humans try to communicate, outside academic policing (Kress 11).
Visual tropes and tropic thinking are a part of visual rhetoric (the art of visual persuasion and visual communication using visual images). The study includes, but is not limited to, the various ways in which it can be applied throughout visual art history.
The term "visual rhetoric" has emerged mainly as a way of marking out disciplinary territory for scholars interested in non-textual artifacts such as those mentioned above; conceptually, the term "visual rhetoric" is itself somewhat problematic. It is usually used to denote non-textual artifacts, yet any mark on a surface -- including text -- can be seen as "visual." Consider the texts available at Project Gutenberg. These "plain vanilla" texts, lacking any visual connection to their original, published forms, nevertheless suggest important questions about visual rhetoric. Their bare-bones manner of presentation implies, for example, that the "words themselves" are more important than the visual forms in which the words were originally presented. Given that such texts can easily be read by a speech synthesizer, they also suggest important questions about the relationship between writing and speech, or orality and literacy.
- Barthes, Roland, "The Rhetoric of the Image," Image, Music, Text. Ed. and trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. 32-51
- Ewen, Stuart, All Consuming Images. New York: Basic Books, 1988. ISBN 978-0465001019
- Ewen, Stuart, PR! A Social History of Spin. New York: Basic Books, 1996. ISBN 978-0465061792
- Groupe µ, Traité du signe visuel. Pour une rhétorique de l'image, Paris, Le Seuil, 1992. ISBN 2-02-012985-X
- Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. New York: Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-10600-1
- Handa, Carolyn, ed. Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004. ISBN 0-312-40975-3
- Hill, Charles, and Marguerite Helmers, ed. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-8058-4403-1
- Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. ISBN 978-0761966654
- Taylor, Alan We, the media: Pedagogic Intrusions into US Film and Television News Broadcasting Rhetorics, Peter Lang, 2005, pp. 418, ISBN 3-631-51852-8
- "Video Games, Manipulation and the U.S. Military: A Comparative Analysis of America's Army and SOCOM II: US Navy SEALs" academic analysis of "America's Army" and "SOCOM II: US Navy SEALs" in terms of "Visual Discourse" by Caroline S. Brooks a PhD candidate at East Carolina University.