The camera contains visual aspects in its ability to take a photo and the colors reflecting off of it. Visual rhetoric includes methods to study images taken by the camera above.

Visual Rhetoric: Defining and Comparing



Unlike digital literacy, visual rhetoric is a set of methods contained within digital rhetoric. Yet like digital rhetoric, it “draws on a number of different fields and disciplines and uses rhetoric as the common theoretical foundation” (Eyman).

Definition of Visual Rhetoric

Scholars have found great difficulty defining the term. Charles Hill and Marguerite Helmers found that the difficulty arises with the term ‘visual’. Some argue that it is only based on “analyzing representational images” (Eyman). Others may say it is anything created by humans. There are still a majority of scholars who argue that this rhetoric should involve “a study of the process of looking”.


Digital rhetoric and visual rhetoric can be both alike yet different. Visual rhetoric has a longer history than digital rhetoric. With scholars trying to establish a concrete definition, many have published their own works attempting to do so. Like digital rhetoric, it is versatile. According to Eyman, it can function as both a practice and field of study. Sonja Foss elaborates on this statement stating that it can be both an object and a perspective on the study.

There are certainly instances where both work together. Eyman makes this discovery when discussing “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments” by Mary Hocks. Mary Hocks suggests that ““because modern information technologies construct meaning as simultaneously verbal, visual, and interactive hybrids, digital rhetoric simply assumes the use of visual rhetoric as well as other modalities” (Eyman).

There can be complications when it comes to the use of its methods. The methods have proven to be insufficient when applied to new media. Images in all media can easily be studied. Yet, the methods have shown difficulty when it comes to video game visuals. Taking this into consideration, “methods address only one aspect of digital rhetoric analysis and production” (Eyman).


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