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CMNS 325: Visualization and Visual Culture in Communication (co-taught with Dave Murphy)

Course overview

One of the striking features of contemporary society is the proliferation of visual images in everyday life. Quick and accessible technologies for creating, recording and disseminating images have made it much easier to communicate using visual images and combine them with text and sound. This course will provide students with an opportunity to consider theoretical foundations of the many ways that visual culture shapes and is shaped by communication and to develop applied skills in visualization. Visualization is not merely a set of techniques for organizing and presenting information. The term also refers to processes for gaining insights into phenomena that we cannot necessarily 'see' or communicate about using other means. Visual culture and visualization processes thus conceived are powerful ways of knowing. Visualization is sometimes presented as a strategy for synthesizing complex ideas and containing the flow of massive amounts of information but visual representations are not neutral presentations of 'facts.' The ability to critically analyze and design effective visual communication is of fundamental importance for understanding and participating in contemporary society.

This course investigates both theories and techniques of visualization design. Themes covered in the course include: theories of visualization in relation to communication studies; methodologies for studying the interplay of technology, culture and media in visual studies and visual communication design; analysis of imaging conventions and innovations in the context of contemporary global communication; and visual communication in diverse cultural contexts.

Course syllabus

Fall 2009


CMNS 325 web portfolios: Fall 2008

Fall 2009 webDav log-in

Dave Murphy's web site