A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication
by Carol David and Anne R. Richards 

Reviewed by Claire Lutkewitte, Nova Southeastern University



David and Richards' collection of essays, Writing the Visual, is practical in nature, providing writing and communication instructors with plenty of examples of classroom practices and assignments that can teach students about visual rhetoric.  In defining the purpose and value of teaching visual rhetoric in relationship to written texts, the editors claim that "Teachers of English who make the visual a salient theme may find that students who recognize how an image can persuade may be better able to articulate what constitutes written persuasion or even argument; these students likely will grasp, at the very least, that the distance between visual and written cultures is less vast than they had imagined" (p. 5).  Thus, David and Richards' conclude that understanding the relationship between visual and written texts, and the subsequent usefulness of this knowledge, is essential and can be handled by pedagogues when careful attention is given to visuals in the context of a classroom. 

The editors' first chapter serves, then, as the introduction to the rest of the essays in the text.  In their introduction, David and Richards offer short descriptions of several key points in the history of visual rhetoric.  Particularly, they point out the names and works of past scholars who have had an impact on such scholarship, and they use short examples that demonstrate why "digital and print media are different and require distinct pedagogical approaches" (p. 4).  Some of the threads created by these descriptions include, among others, short discussions about cultural studies, authenticity and exploitation, and gender and women's studies.   

The threads highlighted by David and Richards are meant to act as support for their claim that instructors should do more to educate students about the visuals they encounter on a daily basis.  They do not provide an in depth examination of the history of visual rhetoric, but rather give readers suggestions for further research.  Later in the text, these threads are more fully developed by several of the essays' authors.