Journal Article — Visual Literacy for the Enhancement of Inclusive Teaching — by Mary Ball Howkins
As our culture becomes increasingly visually expressive and persuasive, there is a need for all of us to develop greater visual analysis skills for the enhancement of inclusive teaching, as well as an understanding of the visual culture around us. For students and faculty with little visual or art history education, this can be a daunting undertaking. The contemporary academic field of visual communication is complex, yet a promising and accessible place to begin acquiring visual analysis skills is in the realm of contemporary print advertising where images are immobile and often familiar. Students usually respond enthusiastically, pleased to interpret familiar cultural material and challenged to solve visual puzzles that lend themselves to rather easy solution. Beginning with the acquisition of elementary visual analysis skills and moving toward the more complex, instructors can present students with advertising images that still in some subtle way privilege the white blond model, despite recent gains in ethnically diverse model usage. Photographers and corporate advertisers such as Macy’s or Old Navy have adjusted visual tactics to preserve traditional racial values by centering specific models, and in positioning them laterally while utilizing light, color, motion, and the model’s gaze to give visual precedence to a Caucasian body. Students ultimately can become aware of the prevailing Eurocentric aesthetic that continues to rule in current clothing ads.
Howkins, Mary Ball. 2010. “Visual Literacy for the Enhancement of Inclusive Teaching.” Pp. 57-62 in Teaching Transformations 2010 (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VIII, Issue 1, 2010.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).
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