Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Media = Visual Literacy

As I was finishing reading Anne Wysocki's "The Sticky Embrace of Beauty" in Writing New Media, I was drawn to the time that I was observing a twelfth grade English classroom for students with disabilities. In preparation for reading Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, the students observed, analyzed, discussed, etc. William Hogarth's engraving, Gin Lane. For your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of the engraving:

Gin Lane by William Hogarth

Now, as you're sitting observing the picture, take a few seconds to really look at what Hogarth is trying to portray. Okay, I know that it is slightly disconnected from what Wysocki discusses, but I have realized how much visual literacy shapes a literary work (Wysocki, 149), such as Hogarth to Swift. I think that many times as an English teacher, I find teachers using visuals as just another discussion tool, but why not use it to preface the text and to shape the text? 

I think by incorporating visual literacy this way, it gives students another way to think about literacy as a whole. As seen in previous blogs, I am extremely passionate about literacy, especially since there is a major emphasis in the primary and secondary schools due to the Common Core State Standards. For those of you who know Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, how might you use visual literacy, such as the above picture, to connect and shape the text?

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