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The Visual War on Women: Check out yesterday’s BagNewsSalon, held for the first time in Google Hangout!

Visual takeaways from Obama’s new doc

#teamrhetoric¬† @TPM has a nice piece on the Five Big Takeaways from Obama’s Documentary. I would add this about the visual choices: The framing of Obama as the lone man in the Oval Office, making all the decisions, is the visual touchstone of the narrative. Makes sense when Repubs always want to portray Obama as weak, but it also echoes LBJ’s 1964 “Our President” ad, a much more explicit framing of the president-as-lonely-and-prudent-decider. With heavy reliance on still photographs from Pete Souza, including moments when they drop color to heighten the drama, the film is crammed with shots of Obama worrying, listening, thinking, pondering, all by himself. The loneliest job in America.

Photojournalists committed to making poverty visible, via AmericanPoverty.org. Commentary on this effort from the New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog.

Photojournalists committed to making poverty visible, via AmericanPoverty.org. Commentary on this effort from the New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog.

Lewis Hine child labor photos + Newt Gingrich = fun with viral video! This viral video has gone around the web over the last few days. Among other things, it excoriates Newt Gingrich for his comments about how schoolchildren would be a lot more useful if they just learned some hard work already. Like the really poor ones can be janitors at school!

Of interest to me, of course, is the video maker’s appropriation of Lewis Hine’s Progressive Era child labor photos to offer some perspective by incongruity. While most folks probably couldn’t place them or their time period directly, the Hine photos signal to viewers that Newt’s ideas are, shall we say, more than a little old school. Furthermore, if you’ve spent enough time with the pro-child labor rhetoric of Hine’s period (as I have), you’ll be pleased to know that Newt’s arguments are the exact same arguments folks made back then. Everything old is new(t) again.

The video’s Christmas theme brought to mind another child labor image, this one published in John Spargo’s 1906 The Bitter Cry of the Children. If you look closely at this photo of boys working the night shift at a glass factory (click on photo to make it bigger), you can see the word “xmas” written at the lower left corner of the chalkboard in front of which they are working. It makes one wonder who wrote that, or what precisely Christmas might have meant to these child workers - a blessed day off, perhaps? And while I’m not sure why there were chalkboards in the glass factory, it does eerily visualize the video’s Gingri(n)chian narrative whereby children combine school and labor and it’s all for their own good.

image credits: freeze frame from video by Adam Kontras; John Spargo, Bitter Cry of the Children, 1906.

Am I the only person in the universe who finds the pepper spray meme/appropriations tedious? At their best, they construct smart visual analogies (the image here from Birmingham is the only one I’ve seen that does this well). But most are simply fun with Photoshop. If I were teaching my visual politics class this semester, this would be the essay question on the final exam: Using the example of the UC-Davis pepper spray meme, explain what kind of rhetorical work visual appropriations do. Is appropriation by itself a good strategy of confrontation or resistance? Why/why not?
photo credit: via Joni Spigler on Facebook

Am I the only person in the universe who finds the pepper spray meme/appropriations tedious? At their best, they construct smart visual analogies (the image here from Birmingham is the only one I’ve seen that does this well). But most are simply fun with Photoshop. If I were teaching my visual politics class this semester, this would be the essay question on the final exam: Using the example of the UC-Davis pepper spray meme, explain what kind of rhetorical work visual appropriations do. Is appropriation by itself a good strategy of confrontation or resistance? Why/why not?

photo credit: via Joni Spigler on Facebook

Photographer and blogger Pete Brook of Prison Photography is in the midst of an 8,000 mile cross-country road trip. I’ll let him tell you about it:

'Prison Photography' on the Road is about photography. I’ll be meeting the most creative and celebrated photographers who, through their work in prisons, have shaped America’s visual culture and the debate on U.S. criminal justice.

This is an important, innovative project that’s using Kickstarter as a funding mechanism. Check out Pete’s video and track him on the road.

Rest in peace, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.
This photo is one of thousands of previously unpublished civil rights-eta photographs discovered in a cardboard box in an equipment closet at the Birmingham News in 2004. The paper made them public in a series of stories and photo exhibits in 2006. See the full online collection here.
I offered a reading of this particular image on BagNews in 2006.

Image credit: “March 6, 1957: The Rev. Shuttlesworth is stopped  before entering the whites only waiting room at Birmingham’s Terminal  station. This photo came one day after the Alabama Public Service  Commission ruled that the waiting rooms must remain segregated. Robert Adams, Birmingham News.”

Rest in peace, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

This photo is one of thousands of previously unpublished civil rights-eta photographs discovered in a cardboard box in an equipment closet at the Birmingham News in 2004. The paper made them public in a series of stories and photo exhibits in 2006. See the full online collection here.

I offered a reading of this particular image on BagNews in 2006.

Image credit: “March 6, 1957: The Rev. Shuttlesworth is stopped before entering the whites only waiting room at Birmingham’s Terminal station. This photo came one day after the Alabama Public Service Commission ruled that the waiting rooms must remain segregated. Robert Adams, Birmingham News.”


BAGnewsSalon, Oct. 16: Analyzing Media’s Visual Framing of the “Great Recession.” Join us for a real-time, online discussion starting at 1 pm EST. Nate Stormer of UMaine (go Black Bears!) moderates, and there’s an amazing lineup of photographers, including Anthony Suau and Michael Williamson. I’ll be there (late, sadly), commenting on the history of visual representations of poverty. Join us, and send your students and friends!

BAGnewsSalon, Oct. 16: Analyzing Media’s Visual Framing of the “Great Recession.” Join us for a real-time, online discussion starting at 1 pm EST. Nate Stormer of UMaine (go Black Bears!) moderates, and there’s an amazing lineup of photographers, including Anthony Suau and Michael Williamson. I’ll be there (late, sadly), commenting on the history of visual representations of poverty. Join us, and send your students and friends!

The visual politics of food, WW2 edition: Who knew gardening could be so sexy?

image credit: US National Archives Flickr site

The visual politics of food, WW2 edition: Who knew gardening could be so sexy?

image credit: US National Archives Flickr site

Grad Student Research Alert! #teamrhetoric Where do ideas come from? I found this today, in an old “idea” notebook. Dated 8.29.95, it’s my first recorded mention of the dissertation idea that eventually became my first book. Note that I started out pretty ignorant: “WPA” in confident blue pen got crossed out in pencil for the more accurate “FSA.” Gotta start somewhere, people!

Grad Student Research Alert! #teamrhetoric Where do ideas come from? I found this today, in an old “idea” notebook. Dated 8.29.95, it’s my first recorded mention of the dissertation idea that eventually became my first book. Note that I started out pretty ignorant: “WPA” in confident blue pen got crossed out in pencil for the more accurate “FSA.” Gotta start somewhere, people!

The Visual War on Women: Check out yesterday’s BagNewsSalon, held for the first time in Google Hangout!

Visual takeaways from Obama’s new doc

#teamrhetoric¬† @TPM has a nice piece on the Five Big Takeaways from Obama’s Documentary. I would add this about the visual choices: The framing of Obama as the lone man in the Oval Office, making all the decisions, is the visual touchstone of the narrative. Makes sense when Repubs always want to portray Obama as weak, but it also echoes LBJ’s 1964 “Our President” ad, a much more explicit framing of the president-as-lonely-and-prudent-decider. With heavy reliance on still photographs from Pete Souza, including moments when they drop color to heighten the drama, the film is crammed with shots of Obama worrying, listening, thinking, pondering, all by himself. The loneliest job in America.

Photojournalists committed to making poverty visible, via AmericanPoverty.org. Commentary on this effort from the New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog.

Photojournalists committed to making poverty visible, via AmericanPoverty.org. Commentary on this effort from the New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog.

Lewis Hine child labor photos + Newt Gingrich = fun with viral video! This viral video has gone around the web over the last few days. Among other things, it excoriates Newt Gingrich for his comments about how schoolchildren would be a lot more useful if they just learned some hard work already. Like the really poor ones can be janitors at school!

Of interest to me, of course, is the video maker’s appropriation of Lewis Hine’s Progressive Era child labor photos to offer some perspective by incongruity. While most folks probably couldn’t place them or their time period directly, the Hine photos signal to viewers that Newt’s ideas are, shall we say, more than a little old school. Furthermore, if you’ve spent enough time with the pro-child labor rhetoric of Hine’s period (as I have), you’ll be pleased to know that Newt’s arguments are the exact same arguments folks made back then. Everything old is new(t) again.

The video’s Christmas theme brought to mind another child labor image, this one published in John Spargo’s 1906 The Bitter Cry of the Children. If you look closely at this photo of boys working the night shift at a glass factory (click on photo to make it bigger), you can see the word “xmas” written at the lower left corner of the chalkboard in front of which they are working. It makes one wonder who wrote that, or what precisely Christmas might have meant to these child workers - a blessed day off, perhaps? And while I’m not sure why there were chalkboards in the glass factory, it does eerily visualize the video’s Gingri(n)chian narrative whereby children combine school and labor and it’s all for their own good.

image credits: freeze frame from video by Adam Kontras; John Spargo, Bitter Cry of the Children, 1906.

Am I the only person in the universe who finds the pepper spray meme/appropriations tedious? At their best, they construct smart visual analogies (the image here from Birmingham is the only one I’ve seen that does this well). But most are simply fun with Photoshop. If I were teaching my visual politics class this semester, this would be the essay question on the final exam: Using the example of the UC-Davis pepper spray meme, explain what kind of rhetorical work visual appropriations do. Is appropriation by itself a good strategy of confrontation or resistance? Why/why not?
photo credit: via Joni Spigler on Facebook

Am I the only person in the universe who finds the pepper spray meme/appropriations tedious? At their best, they construct smart visual analogies (the image here from Birmingham is the only one I’ve seen that does this well). But most are simply fun with Photoshop. If I were teaching my visual politics class this semester, this would be the essay question on the final exam: Using the example of the UC-Davis pepper spray meme, explain what kind of rhetorical work visual appropriations do. Is appropriation by itself a good strategy of confrontation or resistance? Why/why not?

photo credit: via Joni Spigler on Facebook

Photographer and blogger Pete Brook of Prison Photography is in the midst of an 8,000 mile cross-country road trip. I’ll let him tell you about it:

'Prison Photography' on the Road is about photography. I’ll be meeting the most creative and celebrated photographers who, through their work in prisons, have shaped America’s visual culture and the debate on U.S. criminal justice.

This is an important, innovative project that’s using Kickstarter as a funding mechanism. Check out Pete’s video and track him on the road.

Rest in peace, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.
This photo is one of thousands of previously unpublished civil rights-eta photographs discovered in a cardboard box in an equipment closet at the Birmingham News in 2004. The paper made them public in a series of stories and photo exhibits in 2006. See the full online collection here.
I offered a reading of this particular image on BagNews in 2006.

Image credit: “March 6, 1957: The Rev. Shuttlesworth is stopped  before entering the whites only waiting room at Birmingham’s Terminal  station. This photo came one day after the Alabama Public Service  Commission ruled that the waiting rooms must remain segregated. Robert Adams, Birmingham News.”

Rest in peace, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

This photo is one of thousands of previously unpublished civil rights-eta photographs discovered in a cardboard box in an equipment closet at the Birmingham News in 2004. The paper made them public in a series of stories and photo exhibits in 2006. See the full online collection here.

I offered a reading of this particular image on BagNews in 2006.

Image credit: “March 6, 1957: The Rev. Shuttlesworth is stopped before entering the whites only waiting room at Birmingham’s Terminal station. This photo came one day after the Alabama Public Service Commission ruled that the waiting rooms must remain segregated. Robert Adams, Birmingham News.”


BAGnewsSalon, Oct. 16: Analyzing Media’s Visual Framing of the “Great Recession.” Join us for a real-time, online discussion starting at 1 pm EST. Nate Stormer of UMaine (go Black Bears!) moderates, and there’s an amazing lineup of photographers, including Anthony Suau and Michael Williamson. I’ll be there (late, sadly), commenting on the history of visual representations of poverty. Join us, and send your students and friends!

BAGnewsSalon, Oct. 16: Analyzing Media’s Visual Framing of the “Great Recession.” Join us for a real-time, online discussion starting at 1 pm EST. Nate Stormer of UMaine (go Black Bears!) moderates, and there’s an amazing lineup of photographers, including Anthony Suau and Michael Williamson. I’ll be there (late, sadly), commenting on the history of visual representations of poverty. Join us, and send your students and friends!

The visual politics of food, WW2 edition: Who knew gardening could be so sexy?

image credit: US National Archives Flickr site

The visual politics of food, WW2 edition: Who knew gardening could be so sexy?

image credit: US National Archives Flickr site

Grad Student Research Alert! #teamrhetoric Where do ideas come from? I found this today, in an old “idea” notebook. Dated 8.29.95, it’s my first recorded mention of the dissertation idea that eventually became my first book. Note that I started out pretty ignorant: “WPA” in confident blue pen got crossed out in pencil for the more accurate “FSA.” Gotta start somewhere, people!

Grad Student Research Alert! #teamrhetoric Where do ideas come from? I found this today, in an old “idea” notebook. Dated 8.29.95, it’s my first recorded mention of the dissertation idea that eventually became my first book. Note that I started out pretty ignorant: “WPA” in confident blue pen got crossed out in pencil for the more accurate “FSA.” Gotta start somewhere, people!

Visual takeaways from Obama’s new doc

About:

Visual Politics: All things visual in public life. Presented by Cara Finnegan, scholar, teacher, rhetoric geek. Lover of photography, art, print culture, politics, and troublemakers.

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