Posts Tagged ‘persuasion’

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Demonstrating How a Tool Works

posted: 1.10.14 by Traci Gardner

A few weeks ago, a student came to my office to ask how to increase the details in her essay. Students were working on a fairly typical commercial analysis essay. Their task was to choose a popular, national commercial and analyze the ways that the advertisers used rhetorical appeals to persuade customers to buy the product, use the service, or support the cause. [read more]

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Finding Persuasion in Unexpected Places

posted: 7.30.13 by Traci Gardner

As I did last summer, I spent twelve days this month with my sister on a road trip from Virginia to Utah, with a stay in Salt Lake City for the Stampin’ Up convention in the middle. I learned a number of interesting ideas at the convention, both for my hobby of scrapbooking and cardmaking and for teaching and creativity in general. The most interesting thing that I came upon, however, was the garbage and recycling bins (shown above) in the Salt Palace Convention Center where the event was held. [read more]

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More Resources for Poster Analysis

posted: 9.23.09 by Traci Gardner

Earlier this week, I shared 16 War Poster Sites for Persuasive Analysis, but I know you need some additional resources before you can ask students to work through a poster independently. That’s today’s focus.

First, for a general overview of how visual documents work, visit the Purdue OWL’s Visual Rhetoric: Analyzing Visual Documents. The site focuses on how to write an analytical essay, but the general information will work for analytical class discussion as well.

To practice in class, use the visual analysis exercises at Bedford/St. Martin’s Re: Writing site. The Preview Exercises on Proximity from the ix visual exercises CD-ROM discusses how grouping and spacing elements in a visual design contribute to the overall message that a text communicates.

If you’d like a structured list of questions, you have several options. You can try the Document Analysis Questions from ReadWriteThink, the War Poster Analysis from the Truman Presidential Library, or the Poster Analysis Worksheet from the National Archive. All three sites outline questions that students can use or their own or that you could use to lead class analysis.

For classroom discussion, I find the analysis questions can make things a bit too stiff and scripted. I devised a mnemonic to guide our conversations. Once we’ve worked through all five letters, I know we’ve touched on all the aspects of a basic analysis:

Mnemonic Example Discussion Questions
W: Words What words are there? What is their tone? How do they relate to the other information on the poster?
I: Images How do the photos and illustrations contribute to the message? Are they polished? Formal? Informal?
L: Layout How does the arrangement of the words and images work? How are the components grouped? How do they coordinate or contrast?
C: Color What colors are used on the poster? How do the colors affect the message?
O: Overall What is the overall impression of the poster? How do the different parts combine to communicate a message? How effective is the poster at its purpose?

In addition to working for more informal discussion scenarios, these areas that the mnemonic covers, like the Preview Exercises on Proximity, are more general than the structured lists. You can work through the different areas of WILCO with any poster (not just war posters) as well as with other visual documents like PowerPoint slides, billboards, or Web pages.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Document Design, Popular Culture, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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16 War Poster Sites for Persuasive Analysis

posted: 9.22.09 by Traci Gardner

unclesamWhat’s the most famous poster in the world? Many would say it’s James Montgomery Flagg’s 1916 Uncle Sam poster. Since World War I, Flagg’s poster has been persuading men and women to join the U.S. Army.

Posters supporting America’s war efforts demonstrate basic persuasive techniques in direct ways that students can readily identify. The messages behind the posters are rarely abstract. The National Archives exhibit Powers of Persuasion, quoting the U.S. Office of Facts and Figures’s How to Make Posters That Will Help Win The War, explains why: “War posters that are symbolic do not attract a great deal of attention, and they fail to arouse enthusiasm. Often, they are misunderstood by those who see them.”

What does the Uncle Sam poster do to attract attention and arouse enthusiasm? The answer lies in Flagg’s understanding of visual rhetoric. It’s based on understanding the use of color, text, symbols, and illustrations. You can step through an analysis of the poster with the ReadWriteThink Analyzing a World War II Poster Interactive, either working together as a class or having students work individually. The tool is free.

Don’t limit your analysis to the Uncle Sam poster, though. Just visit any of the fifteen sites listed below. In addition to recruiting posters, you’ll find posters encouraging people to support American troops, asking women to enter the workforce, and urging citizens not to spread rumors. There is some overlap among these free sites, but each offers some unique material.

  1. “A Summons to Comradeship”: World War I and II Posters and Postcards from the University of Minnesota
  2. The Art of War from the National Archives of England, Wales and the United Kingdom
  3. The Art of War: World War II Posters from West Texas A&M University
  4. Mobilizing for War: Poster Art of World War II from the Truman Presidential Library
  5. Posters on the American Home Front (1941-45) from the Smithsonian Institute
  6. Rosie Pictures: Select Images Relating to American Women Workers During World War II from the Library of Congress
  7. Sowing the Seeds of Victory: the World War I Poster Collection from Indianapolis Public Librarty
  8. Unifying a Nation: World War II Poster from the New Hampshire State Library
  9. U.S. Navy Recruiting Posters from the U.S. Navy
  10. The War on the Walls from Temple University
  11. War Posters Collection from the Enoch Pratt Free Library
  12. War Poster Collection from the University of Washington
  13. War Posters from the Boston Public Library
  14. War Posters from the Ohio Historical Society
  15. World War II Poster Collection from Northwestern University
  16. World War II Posters from the University of North Texas

Watch later this week for some analysis tools you can use with these sites.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Document Design, Popular Culture, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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Using Current Events to Discuss Writing and Visual Rhetoric

posted: 9.17.09 by Traci Gardner

On the local news tonight, I heard a story about a letter sent to all Virginia Tech students outlining the precautions being taken on campus to avoid an outbreak of swine flu. On the other side of the U.S., Washington State University reported that 2500 students have contracted the H1N1 virus since classes started in August. Somewhere on your campus, you’ve probably heard or seen similar news and advice on avoiding swine flu.

All these stories make excellent texts for the classroom. Obviously, we want to share the information with students to help ensure a healthy fall term for everyone. In the composition classroom, these news stories and public notices also give us current texts we can dissect for use of persuasive techniques and visual rhetoric. Combined with similar materials from the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918, these materials give students the chance to consider how rhetorical techniques are adapted to fit the times.

I’ve gathered online resources that range from library exhibitions on the 1918 pandemic to current U.S. government materials on the H1N1 virus. You can supplement these materials with information distributed on your own campus and in the local community as well as from the Reuters Worldwide Coverage on H1N1. Here are four ideas for classroom activities to get you started:

  1. Much of the way we think about global pandemic, whether the spread of the H1N1 virus today or the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, is shaped by materials distributed by the government. Explore how these government sites present information on the 1918 pandemic: The Great Pandemic: The United States in 1918–1919, Influenza of 1918 (Spanish Flu) and the US Navy, and The Deadly Virus. Ask students to consider how the different sites blend historical facts and figures about the 1918 pandemic with more personal reports of the effects of the disease. Have students consider why these government sites exist and how they relate to the public health efforts related to the current H1N1 virus.
  2. Read these personal recollections of the 1918 pandemic, all in the form of transcribed oral histories, focusing on their use of specific details. Ask students to identify the details in the oral histories that make the stories vivid and authentic and to discuss what the specific details add to the oral histories that more general information would not have captured.
  3. Focus on visual rhetoric by looking at the posters and public service announcements. Use the Visual Rhetoric resources from the Purdue OWL to guide your exploration. For a historical twist, compare the techniques used in posters urging health and safety during the 1918 pandemic to those created for the H1N1 virus.
    As part of your exploration, students might design their own posters or videos.

  4. Tap the language expertise of ESL students you teach. Ask second language speakers to focus on how the same message is communicated in different languages. Are there significant differences? What cultural information must change to communicate the same basic message. Use the Stop Germs, Stay Healthy! posters from King County in Washington or the World Health Organization Documents on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 to start discussion.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Campus Issues, Document Design, ESL/multilingual writers, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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