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History of Visual Literacy

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Jessica Harms

on 25 October 2016

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Transcript of History of Visual Literacy

Edmund Burke Feldman publishes
Art as an Image and Idea
(1967), describing how the visual arts, in its variety of forms in society, influences the attitudes, behaviors, responses, and social interactions of a culture. Dr. Feldman also develops the
Feldman Method of Art Criticism
, a formula used widely by art educators to aid in the critical analysis and interpretation of artworks and cultural artifacts

History of Visual Literacy in Culture & Education
ca. 15,000 BC
Painting of Lascaux caves by Paleolithic humans, first evidence of the human capacity to interpret and give meaning to surroundings through images (Tadesco, 2000, para. 2)
First human written communication is through symbols
ca. 3,300-1,300 BC
Ancient Egyptians create a symbol-based system of communication called hieroglyphics to represent objects and ideas (Ancient Egypt, para. 2)
Evidence of symbols as language
Visuals are used to compliment learning materials and aid in the comprehension of new content
Orbis Sensualium Pictus
(“The World Explained in Pictures”) by Jan Amos Comenius is first published in Nuremburg, Germany. The Orbis was a children’s visual textbook for learning Latin and other languages and is a candid summary of the world in 150 pictures (Paivio, 2006. p.2)
Late 18th and early 19th century
The Romantic revolution (literature, art, music, philosophy) begins construction of aesthetic theory (Elkins, 2008, p. 39)
Beginning of the study of aesthetics in various cultures and it's impact on comprehension and expression
The first patented motion picture camera is designed by Frenchman Louis Le Prince in England. Ten years later, silent film has become the most influential art form on the minds of the general public through abstract visual language (Balazs, 1970)
Moving imagery is introduced to public as an art form and a means of communication
John Dewey publishes
Art as Experience
which is still considered one of the most influential books on the topic of aesthetics and philosophy of art. Dewey illustrates how “art is a universal mode of language” and describes the importance of visual communication in society: “To civilize is to instruct others in life, and this requires communication of values by way of imagination. The arts aid individuals in achieving this.” (Leddy, 2015, 2.14)
Imagination and creativity in society is influenced by aesthetics and various forms of visual art
1950’s and 1960’s
Television begins to influence the comprehension and actions of society, educators take notice and begin conceptualizing the importance and impact of visual communication (Moore, 1994, p. 97)
Influence of television on mass culture is exponential
Feldman's book
Art as an Image and Idea
highlights how the visual arts effect the ways we interpret culture
A group of approximately 350 theorists, co-chaired by Jack Debes of Kodak and Clarence Williams of the University of Rochester, gathered to present papers and discuss their schemes and applications of visuals. The end result is the founding of the International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA) in Rochester, New York (International Visual Literacy Association, 2011)
Founding of IVLA solidifies the importance of visual literacy
Jack Debes defines the term “visual literacy”:

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.” (Averinou, 2012, para. 2)

Jack Debes defines visual literacy and the influence of visual symbols, objects, and actions on communication in society
Jessica Harms
University of Georgia Fall 2015

Dr. Feldman, creator of the
Feldman Method of Art Criticism
, describes the three important educational implications of visual literacy:

1) That visual language can be taught and learned
2) That much of what humans know is from the visual images in their environment, which are interpreted without formal instruction
3) The study of aesthetics, iconology, art history, and art criticism in school settings can provide a strong basis for establishing visual language and creating connections with the imagery in our culture (Moore, 1994, p. 17)

Dr. Edmund Feldman describes how the study of aesthetics and the visual arts can provide a strong foundation for establishing visual language
Allan Urho Paivio proposes a theory of dual coding to explain the proficiency of retaining/recalling images:

“According to this theory there are two types of memory coding — in a verbal system and an image system. Verbally presented material is encoded only in the verbal system, while visually presented material is encoded in both the verbal and image systems. In contrast with the memory's ‘single coding’ for text, pictures have "dual coding" in two types of memory codes; if these two codes provide more cues for recall, then it generally should be easier to remember pictures” (Rusbult, 1995, para. 6

Paivio also asserts that “cognitive growth depends on the richness of the early nonverbal experiences” (Paivio, 2006. p.8), stating that his duel coding theory depends on early sensorimotor experiences with concrete objects and events

Allan Urho Paivio's duel coding theory examines the verbal and image systems' impact on memory and cognition
The new “pictorial turn” described by W.J.T. Mitchell where images are not just in culture to illustrate and entertain, but are central to communication and meaning-making in society (Felten, 2008, p. 60)
Cognition broadens through visual communication
Kerry Freedman publishes
Teaching Visual Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics, and the Social Life of Art
(2003), adapting the connections between real-life visual representations and the fine arts to the classroom while discussing the impacts of visual literacy on cognition, identity construction, aesthetics, and curriculum development in the postmodern world

Kerry Freedman examines literacy in the classroom and how the visual arts can aid in creating connections between new content and real-life experiences
2003, continued
Kerry Freedman's main arguments concerning visual literacy include:

- No image has only one context
- Visual literacy is based on the cross-referencing social objects, images, and actions
- Artists rely on this social knowledge to construct meaning & relationships
- Movement from modernist aesthetics (closed, assumed experiences) to postmodern aesthetics (rejects formal elements and principals of design in favor of numerous, symbolic social meanings and numerous avenues for interpretation)

Kerry Freedman cross-references social objects, images, and actions with visual literacy
“Multimodal principal” argued by James Paul Gee (2007) in
What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning in Literacy
, where “meaning and knowledge are built up through various modalities (images, texts, symbols, interactions, abstract design, sound, etc.) not just words” (p. 256)
Meaning and knowledge construction is more influenced by abstract forms of expression
Mark Zuckerberg registers thefacebook.com domain. Facebook grows exponentially as the leading social networking site worldwide and the leader of the “digital narrative” movement
Visual narrative through digital streaming
Felten (2008) describes Western culture as a “crop of visual learners”, who are intuitive and more visually literate than past generations (p. 60)
Infinite channels of visual, auditory, and written expression
Are you logged in?
79 million viewers watch 3 billion videos on YouTube, photo-sharing site Flickr contains more than two billion images (Felten, 2008, p.60) Kaestle states in his 1988 article Literacy and Diversity: Themes from aSocial History of the American Reading Public that sharing within a culture is imperative in literacy education (p. 554)

Digital sharing of various forms of visual communication becomes easily accessible

Alibhai, A. A. (2001). Locating community art practice. Unpublished master's dissertation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

Ancient Egypt, hieroglyphics. Retrieved from http://history-world.org/hieroglyphics.htm

Averinou, Maria D. (2012). What is visual literacy? International Visual Literacy Association. Retrieved from http://ivla.org/new/what-is-visual-literacy-2/

Balazs, Bela. (1970). Theory of the film: character and growth of a new art. New York, N.Y: Dover Publications.

Elikins, Jim. (2008). Visual literacy. New York, NY: Routledge.

Feldman, Edmund Burke. (1967). Art as an image and idea. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall.

Felten, Peter. (2008, August). Visual literacy. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 60. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com

Freedman, Kerry. (2003). Teaching visual culture: curriculum, aesthetics, and the social life of art. New York, NY: Teacher’s College Press.

Gee, James Paul. (2007). What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning in Literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Greene, Maxine. (1995). Releasing the imagination. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Instagram: our story. (2015). Retrieved from https://instagram.com/press/

Internet world stats. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

IVLA history. (2011). Retrieved from http://ivla.org/new/ivla-history/

Kaestle, C. F. (1988). Literacy and diversity: Themes from a social history of the American reading public. History of Education Quarterly, 28(4), 523-549.

Krenksy, B. & Steffen, S. L. (2009). Engaging classrooms and communities through art. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

Leddy, Tom. (2015). Dewey’s aesthetics. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/dewey-aesthetics/

Luke, A. (1995). When basic skills and information processing aren’t enough: Rethinking reading in new times. Teachers College Press, 97(1), 95-115.

Martinez, Miriam G., & McGee, Lea M. (2000). Children’s literature and reading instruction: Past, present, and future. Reading Research Quarterly, 35, 154–169.

Monaghan, J. & Hartman, D. (2000). Handbook of reading research, volume III. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 109-121.

Moore, David M. (1994). Visual literacy: a spectrum of visual learning [Google Books Edition]. Retrieved from https://books.google.com

Paivio, Allan. (2006). Duel coding theory and education. From conference on Pathways to Literacy Achievement for High Poverty Children, The University of Michigan School of Education. Retrieved from http://www.csuchico.edu/~nschwartz/paivio.pdf

Pearson, P.D. (2000). Reading in the 20th century. In T. Good (Ed.), American education: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow: Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (pp. 152-208). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Robinson, R., Baker, E., Clegg, L. (1998). Literacy and the pendulum of change. Peabody Journal of Education, 73(3/4), 15-30.

Rusbult, Craig. (1995). Visual thinking in education (Introduction to Disertation). Retrieved from http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/teach/visual.htm

Rushkoff, Douglas. (2013). Present shock: when everything happens now. New York, NY: Penguin.

Smith, N. B. (2002). American reading instruction (Special Edition). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Tedesco, Laura Anne. (2000) Lascaux (ca. 15,000 B.C.). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/lasc/hd_lasc.htm

Douglas Rushkoff (2013), PhD in media theory, publishes
Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
, describing the “narrative collapse” of storytelling and the influences of the digital era (social media, video games, etc.) on the way society constantly reinterprets and simultaneously synthesizes information live, in real time
How will our society communicate in the future? How does digital/visual literacy impact how we interpret our world?
Digital and visual language education is vital in understanding our instantaneous, shared, and globally experienced postmodern world
Visual language is exponentially digital. Digital forms of visual communication are instantly shared, live-streamed, and widely accessible. Statistics include:
- 43% of the globe has internet access, a growth of 753% worldwide since 2000 (360 million in 2000 vs. 3.08 billion in 2015) (Internet world stats, 2015)
- Facebook reaches 936 million users globally (Internet world stats, 2015)
- Instagram boasts over 400 million active users with 80 million photo uploads per day (Instagram: Our Story, 2015)

2015 and beyond...
Early 1800's
​As America reaches a state of security, the country now has the time to focus on the cultural pursuits of music, art, literature, and other forms of expression. This leads to a focus on cultural development in literacy instruction in education (Smith, 2002, p. 108)

America focuses on cultural persuits through various forms of expression
Reading education focuses on integrated instruction. John Dewey, renowned progressive education theorist, and others promote infusing reading with the language arts and integrating reading instruction
across curricular boundaries with subjects such as math, science, music, and visual arts (Smith, 2002, p. 447)
Reading education is combined with all subject areas, utilizing various forms of literacy
Early 20th century
​In connection to phonic instruction, teachers began to use the term visual discrimination to describe a child’s ability to see the likenesses and differences between words and letters (Smith, 2002, p. 270)
Visual discrimination defines how children use sight and comparisons to identify words
The Curriculum Foundation Series, commonly called “The Scott Foresman Readers”, reforms basal readers for middle grades to contain new, attractive illustrations to accompany new content, along with improved
typefaces and enlarged page sizes (Smith, 2002, p.321)

Improved illustrations accompany new conent in basal readers for middle grades
Artwork and images depict urban culture in Bank Street Readers
Bank Street Readers are published in Detroit to reflect multicultural and multiracial needs in large cities. Representing urban America, these primers utilize imagery to illustrate the homogeneity of city life: “The artwork is distinctive in a style and it is colorful. Double­page spreads and many full­page pictures are used freely in the early readers. The illustrations strongly reinforce the content of the books and the intent of the authors in that they depict typical city scenes and involve characters representing different races” (Smith, 2002, p. 354)

​Frank Smith publishes
Understanding Reading
, identifying four sources of information: orthographic, syntactic, semantic, and visual. Smith argues that reading was only incidentally visual and that skilled readers make use of orthographic, syntactic, and semantic prior knowledge in order to minimize reliance on visual information. Frank Smith also states that
there is a danger of losing meaning construction when readers rely too heavily on visual information (Smith, 2002, p. 434)

Smith debates the reliance on visual information
Internet is predicted to be a huge resource for past practices
​In the article
Literacy and the Pendulum of Change
(1998), Robinson, Baker, and Clegg describe the importance of looking back on the history of literacy education to avoid repeating past practices and to gain insight and perception. They also predict the future of the importance of the Internet on this theory: “The new electronic channels of communication may ultimately offer our greatest hope for true consensus building by accentuating common ground, by affording access to more stakeholders, by facilitating
examination of multiple sources of information and commentary, and by
fostering a retrospective appreciation for what has gone before.” (p. 27)

​Martinez and McGee (2000) predict that in the future becoming literate requires that students be able to deal with various forms of
expression and resources, including online content (p. 165)
Literacy in the future is seen as also being able to analyze digital content
​Monoghan & Hartman describe how historical research promotes interdisciplinary education in the
Handbook of Reading Research
. “Answering questions (related to history) forces us to theorize, search for and weigh evidence, make inferences, and draw conclusions” (p. 110) This emulates the framework of the Feldman Method of Art Criticism (Moore, 1994, p. 17)
Historical literacy mirrors the Feldman Method of Interpretation
​Smith (2002) writes in
American Reading Instruction
that in the future students will be considered “active meaning makers” and that decoding skills will be taught by teachers across all subject areas (Smith, 2002, p. 469)
Decoding is seen as interdisiplinary to foster meaning construction
Psychologist Lev Vygotsky theorizes that art is a social experience which reflects on the essence of humanity. He believes that artistic expression connects the emotional with the social, eliciting interaction and active engagement:

“Art is the social within us, and even of its action is performed by a single individual, it does not mean its essence is individual… Art is the social technique of emotion, a tool of society which brings the most intimate and personal aspects of our being into the circle of social life.” (Krenksy & Steffen, 2009, p. 70)
Visual literacy is seen as a social experience; engages students in culture
Allan Luke (1995) publishes an article in the
Teacher’s College Record
where he discusses critical reading and defines it as “higher-order skills with text, such as the capacity to make semantic predictions, to infer and construct alternative outcomes and authorial intents, to spot propaganda and bias” ( p. 101). Luke (1995) also describes literacy as a social practice and a way to explore ideology, identity, and power within cultures. Luke’s findings with critical readers can also be applied to visual literacy; where students have the potential to become “critical spectators” of art, aesthetics, design, digital content, cultural artifacts, and other forms of visual communication
Allan Luke is an educator, researcher, and theorist studying literacy, multiliteracies, applied linguistics, and educational sociology
American educational philosopher Maxine Greene publishes
Releasing the Imagination
where she discusses allowing students to be able to discover meaning and knowledge independently through various forms of cultural literacy:

“Knowing ‘about’, even in the most formal academic manner, is entirely different from constituting an fictive world imaginatively and entering it perceptually, affectively, and cognitively. To introduce students to the manner of such engagement is to strike a delicate balance between helping learners to pay heed- to attend to shapes, patterns, sounds rhythms, figures of speech, contours and lines- and helping liberate them to achieve particular works as meaningful. And it is perhaps the refusal to control what is discovered as meaningful that strikes particular educators as at odds with their conceptions of norms of their notions of appropriate cultural literacy.” (Greene, 1995, p. 125)

Maxine Greene
(December 23, 1917 – May 29, 2014) was an American educational philosopher, author, social activist, and teacher
2001: Amir Alibhai writes about how visual literacy allows communities to have a voice contemporary culture:

“Perhaps the simplest explanation for why community art practice has emerged recently is the need for contemporary society to find a space to speak- to participate in the public sphere in critical dialogue, and not in a manner that is bureaucratized, surveillanced, not about consuming products, and not removed from their embodied reality… Community is not a static entity ‘out there’, but is manifested through action- it is practiced.” (Alibhai, 2001, p.39)
Culture participates and responds to society through visual language
Pearson describes in
Reading in the Twentieth Century
the influence of the psycholinguistic perspective on reading pedagogy, creating curricular experiences where literacy is focused on creating value and meaning through texts (p. 14). He also states that “cognitive psychology allows psychologists to extend constructs such as human purpose, intention, and motivation to a greater range of psychological phenomena, including perception, attention, comprehension, learning, memory, and executive control to all cognitive processes” (Pearson, 2000, p. 15). Pearson’s findings can also applied to visual literacy and aesthetic inquiry, where artistic pedagogies motivate students to identify and construct meaning and purpose in creative, abstract ways
The psycholinguistic perspective on reading pedagogy can be applied to visual language, creating curricular experiences where literacy is focused on creating value and meaning through images
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