For this reflection I want to focus on how the course content has shaped my approach to scholarship, specifically with the object of study for my dissertation, which as I see it now, will be breastfeeding rhetorics, especially the publications of peer-to-peer organizations such as La Leche League. I’ve done rhetorical analysis of visual breastfeeding campaigns in then past, but I saw that work as separate, though related, to my rhetorical analyses of breastfeeding manuals. In some ways, I considered these to be two separate areas of concern: campaigns that convey messages through visual where text was secondary in meaning making and manuals and similar documents that conveyed meaning through text where I considered images to be a bit more neutral and less important to meaning making than words.
As a scholar studying these manuals, I feel that what the content of the visual rhetoric course has revealed to me is the visual makes an impact on the audience that plays a larger role in meaning-making than I have previously considered. Wysocki’s “Impossibly Distinct: On Form/Content and Word/Image in Two Pieces of Computer-Based Interactive Media” explored the ways in which design and visual elements influence the meaning that is made through audience interaction when the textual content is similar.
As I move forward analyzing the LLL manuals and such documents, my methodology will most certainly include image analysis to examine how images and design not only reinforce the textual content, but also the ways in which the text reinforces ideas presented in images. Certainly now I see image and text working in concert with each other rather than only serving to support what seems to be the dominant mode of meaning making.