Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Roxanne Mountford

Abstract

W.J.T. Mitchell has famously noted that we are in the midst of a “pictorial turn,” and images are playing an increasingly important role in digital and multimodal communication. My dissertation addresses the question of how meaning is made when texts and images are united in multimodal arguments. Visual rhetoricians have often attempted to understand text-image arguments by privileging one medium over the other, either using text-based rhetorical principles or developing new image-based theories. I argue that the relationship between the two media is more dynamic, and can be better understood by applying The New Rhetoric’s concept of dissociation, which Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca developed to demonstrate how the interaction of differently valued concepts can construct new meaning. My dissertation expands the range of dissociation by applying it specifically to visual contexts and using it to critique visual arguments in a series of historical moments when political, religious, and economic factors cause one form of media to be valued over the other: Byzantine Iconoclasm, the late medieval period, the 1950’s advertising boom, and the modern digital age. In each of these periods, I argue that dissociation reveals how the privileged medium can shape an entire multimodal argument. I conclude with a discussion of dissociative multimodal pedagogy, applying dissociation to the multimodal composition classroom.

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