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In the Beginning was the Image: The Omnipresence of Pictures

Time, Truth, Tradition


András Benedek and Ágnes Veszelszki

The authors outline the topic of visuality in the 21st century in a trans- and interdisciplinary theoretical frame from philosophy through communication theory, rhetoric and linguistics to pedagogy. As some scholars of visual communication state, there is a significant link between the downgrading of visual sense making and a dominantly linguistic view of cognition. According to the concept of linguistic turn, everything has its meaning because we attribute meaning to it through language. Our entire world is set in language, and language is the model of human activities. This volume questions the approach in the imagery debate.

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The Selfie Moment: The Rhetorical Implications of Digital Self Portraiture for Culture (Trischa Goodnow)


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Trischa Goodnow

The Selfie Moment: The Rhetorical Implications of Digital Self Portraiture for Culture

1.  Selfie and Rhetoric

When a shard from a bowl is unearthed from an ancient civilization, archeologists and anthropologists learn much about the people who produced it. They discern aspects of life in that time from the way the bowl was made, used, and even decorated. We might call these accidental traces as the original purpose was not to speak about their life but to live it. Alternately, rhetorical critics study purposeful traces, those artifacts that people construct to tell the world, both present and future, who they are. Traditionally, rhetorical critics examined public speeches to infer elements of the immediate and cultural situation in which speeches were produced. More recently, however, critics have begun to examine all types of artifacts in a culture to examine their rhetorical import. In this essay, I examine the digital self-portrait, also known as the selfie, to mine the rhetorical implications of this phenomenon for culture. As Hall (2014: loc 132) suggests, self-portraits “have often been in the vanguard of cultural developments, influencing their own society’s sense of identity and selfhood”. Consequently, it is appropriate to place the selfie in the vanguard of contemporary culture.

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