What is it about?
We analyze a number of anti-consumer advertisements in order to show that it is in principle possible to persuade, or even argue, using visuals alone, i.e., without the help of language. Admittedly, this is a rather unusual case; but we suspect that with growing visual literacy "visual argumentation" will grow in importance.
Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
Why is it important?
One of the hotly debated issues in rhetoric and argumentation studies is whether it is possible to persuade, let alone convince people of something with visuals/images alone. Most scholars in the field acknowledge that visuals can be used to illustrate a rhetorical point, and can evoke emotions, but hold that language is indispensable in argumentation. We disagree, and to counter this claim, we analyze a number of "subvertisements," messages that criticize commercial advertising in the form of the templates of that very selfsame commercial advertising. We show that some of these wordless print advertisements make a rhetorical point, and even provide some sort of argument for this. The key point we want to make that, if our examples are convincing, there are at least SOME visuals that can argue without the help of language.
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This page is a summary of: Arguing Against Corporate Claims Visually and Multimodally: The Genre of Subvertisements, Multimodal Communication, January 2017, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/mc-2017-0008.
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