WRT 105 | Unit 2 Visual Literacies (Working with Documentaries) Reflection Prompt Fall 2014
As you’ll recall, we used a reflection assignment as a way to think critically about situational literacy in Unit 1—about how being aware of our six (persona, purpose, genre, audience, medium, and context) influences both the needs and shape of what we compose.
A Reflection Assignment Is
Remember that a reflection is a genre specific (but not exclusive) to the field of composition. Composition instructors often ask students to write reflections at strategic moments in the course—moments when it seems most appropriate to step back, review all of your work, and think critically about what you are learning and why what you’re learning is significant.
A reflection is not a narrative of what you did, but an analysis of what you did and learned and why it matters. The distinction is crucial: your teacher doesn’t really need a recap of what you did, right? But a teacher does need you to point out what you found most meaningful in the work of the course. Your analysis of what was meaningful becomes the focus of the reflection, and all of your composing throughout the unit becomes the pool of data or evidence for supporting your analysis. All of that work—notes from class, blog posts, peer responses, free writes, review drafts, drafts and revisions of reviews you posted to our blogs and film sites, the visual analysis drafts of your documentary film, the multiple notice and focus exercises (don’t worry, another is coming), and all of the false starts and doodles and list making—is worthy of your attention and analysis. What does all of that stuff say about you as a composer?
Our working context
For our current unit, we’ll again use a reflection assignment to think critically about how our big six inform our thinking about what we mean by the terms “visual literacy.” How does thinking about an image, say a Hopper painting like “Nighthawks” or “Automat” differ from watching This is a Generic Brand Video (remember that one?) and then reading the poem on which the video is based? Or, how does watching the fictional biographical montage film Jane Lloyd (2005) (remember this one?) differ from seeing /watching / screening documentaries about real persons, as with our preliminary documentary trailer line-up (see line-up listed in the right hand box of Th Sept 25)?
For that matter, how does / did being visually literate affect / change how you’ve dealt with both the trailer and your chosen documentary? What happens when we realize that visual rhetoric—i.e. visual arguments—enters into our awareness of how documentaries (your documentary, specifically) literally construct those claims and assertions through visual strategies & techniques? What happens when we shift our sense of the big six (persona, purpose, genre, audience, medium, and context) into visual terms?
The Unit Reflection Assignment
Here, then, is your reflection prompt for Unit 2:
Professor Pavel Zemliansky argues in his chapter 5 essay that “[w]e must read images and other visual compositions in the same manner in which we read verbal texts” and that our reading must be critical, active, and through (218); to do otherwise is to risk moving through only the surface level of daily life, immune to the more meaningful and important arguments that drive visual culture. More importantly, Zemliansky insists that to be visually literate is “to recognize the basic rhetorical elements of visual arguments” (218).
Similarly, Sturken & Cartwright, in their excerpt from Practices of Looking, tell us that “[t]o explore the meaning of images is to recognize that they are produced within the dynamics of social power and ideology” (245), which means that composers create these images from particular points-of-view, or frameworks & gazes that shape our sense the final image(s).
Explore Zemliansky’s claims regarding visual literacy as well as the separate notion that visual images are both composed and created within different types of gazes and frameworks. How have our various forays / experiences into/with the concept of visual literacy enhanced your sense of what we do when we compose, read, watch, look at / notice, or engage visual images? Your reflection will help me appreciate and more fairly evaluate all of your work in the unit (from daily exercises to polished products). It will also help me assess not just what you produced, but what you learned. And finally, your reflection is an opportunity for you to continue to showcase your critical thinking skills, particularly your ability to think deeply about practices and concepts specific to effective reading and discussion of visual literacy(ies).
The following prompts may give you a starting point for thinking and writing; I do not expect you to answer all of them nor use them to outline your reflection:
- In what ways do you feel that visual literacy is a part of the situational literacy we discussed in Unit 1? Should visual literacy be a part of our awareness of persona, purpose, audience, context, medium, and genre? How so?
- How does an understanding of visual literacy impact your sense of genre and the arguments different genres present?
- In what ways are you now aware of how visual images (and not just documentaries) invite different readings (Dominant-hegemonic | Negotiated | Oppositional), as Sturken & Cartwright claim in their “Practices of Looking” essay on p. 249?
- In what ways do your texts for this unit reflect your complex understanding of medium, purpose, and audience?
- What did your experiences with watching and writing about various examples of moving image arguments reveal about your sense of the literacy required in the 21st century?
- How do you think that visual literacy will affect your sense of yourself as a writer / composer of different texts?
- Your reflection should be thoughtful, engaged, an run approximately 325-350 words.
- Submit both your reflection and your analysis as a single post to your personal and the class blog sites by the start of class on October 30th. Have your analysis appear first, followed by your reflection.
- Please include a word count at the end of your post.