Ever since Ferdinand de Saussure saw linguistics as a part of semiotics, an analysis of verbal texts is no longer the only pursuit of anyone interested in language. We feel the need for a better understanding of all the things that go with the verbal, for example, facial expressions, gestures, social contexts, etc. In particular, images are increasingly taking over language as a vital means of communication in this digital age. To this end, this course brings out the disparities as well as the commonalities between language and image as two major semiotic resources for representation and communication. A wide variety of texts including photographs, advertisements, magazine pages, artworks, websites, and web-based images will be used to explain how meaning is created through complex semiotic principles of colour, perspective, framing, composition, and materiality. Like linguistic structures, visual structures of representation can either be narrative, presenting unfolding actions and events, process of change, transitory spatial arrangements, or conceptual, representing participants in terms of their generalised, stable, and timeless essence, or in terms of class, structure, or meaning. The interactive meanings of images are also very important in visual analysis; any image must either be a ‘demand’ or an ‘offer’. Image-makers can select a certain size of frame for indexing social distance and select a certain angle and perspective for indicating certain attitudes. The concept of information value in linguistics can be realised by varying visual configurations. It is important to stress that although this course largely focuses on the theoretical background of visual design, its aims are not just theoretical. They are also descriptive and practical. The course seeks to develop a descriptive framework that can be used as a tool for visual analysis. Such a tool will have its potential use for practical as well as analytical and critical purposes in cultural studies as well as in daily life.
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Understand the principles and theories of visual communication and their practical applications in diverse contexts
- Recognize and analyze the visual elements of communication and design, and understand their role in effective visual communication
- Develop their abilities to communicate complex ideas and messages visually
- Prepare themselves for further studies and careers in fields like advertising, marketing, graphic design, publishing, and media.
- Reading images
- The semiotics of representation
- Interactive and compositional meanings
- Materiality and spatiality
- Digital publishing and visual communication
- Barthes’ theory of images
- Language as art
- Globalese: Typography and the semiotics of consumption
- (Digital) body language
The course is comprised of weekly lectures/seminars.
Assessment is by 100% coursework, consisting of:
- Test 1 (20%)
- Test 2 (40%)
- Response paper (20%)
- In-class participation (20%)
G. Kress & T. van Leeuwen. 2021. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (Third edn). London: Routledge.
Supplementary materials will be made available on Moodle.