Visual Rhetorics / f2015

COM 202: Visual Rhetorics
Syllabus, Assignments, & Schedule
Fall 2015

Contact Information
Dr. Steven Hammer
301 Bronstein Hall
to make an appointment, click HERE


Course Description
This course examines the role of aesthetic, sensory-based experience in digital environments. The course focuses on contemporary ways to understand sensory perception (especially sight and sound) and its relationship to meaning making.  Students will come to understand aesthetics as a mode of complex communication intricately related to social and cultural influences. Students will apply this understanding to a variety of hands-on projects involving graphic design, photography, sound design, and digital film production.


University and Class Policies

Academic Honesty: Please familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Disability Support: In accordance with state and federal laws, the University will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. For those who have or think that you may have a disability requiring an accommodation (learning, physical, psychological) should contact Services for Students with Disabilities, Room G10, Bellarmine, 610-660-1774 (voice) or 610-660-1620 (TTY) as early as possible in the semester for additional information and so that an accommodation, if appropriate, can be made in a timely manner. You will be required to provide current (within 3 years) documentation of the disability.

For a more detailed explanation of the University’s accommodation process, as well as the programs and services offered to students with disabilities, please see the Student Resources Page. If you have any difficulty accessing the information on-line, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities at the telephone numbers above.

If you have any questions or concerns about the syllabus, assignments, or content throughout the semester, please feel free to contact me.


Required Materials


Course Requirements

Participation && Attendance: 10%
Come to class. When you come to class, engage with the learning process and your classmates. You are allowed two “free” absences without penalty. Thereafter, you will lose this 10% of your final grade. If you miss 6 or more classes, you will not pass the course.

Major Projects: 90%
click here for assignment descriptions & Grading criteria

∆ graphic design & Photography- 30%
You will produce image-based materials for a nonprofit organization of your choice, including logo design, photographs, and a business card. This project will require intensive research, incorporation of principles of graphic design & photography, and careful attention to your potential audiences & their expectations.

∆ audio – 30%
You will completely redesign the sound for a short scene from a film (I will give you several from which to choose), including dialogue, music, and sound effects. Your design must contain no more than 25% prerecorded material; the rest must consist of your own field recording and composition.

∆ video – 30%
In small groups, you will compose a short (approx. 5 minute) documentary film on a topic of your choice. You will write, storyboard, film, edit, and revise your film. This project is a culmination of concepts and skills you have learned in the course thus far, including research, shot selection, sound design, and editing.


Grading & Deadlines

*Deadlines must be met in order to receive credit for your work.
A-: 90-100% -exceeds basic assignment criteria in several ways.
B: 80-89% -meets and exceeds basic assignment criteria
C: 70-79% -meets basic assignment criteria
D: 60-69% -fails to meet one or more basic assignment criteria.
F: 0-59% -incomplete, not received, or fails to meet any basic assignment criteria.



This is a tentative schedule. Changes will be announced in class.
Reading/watching/listening assignments must be completed prior to class each week.

What is Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric
Rhetorical Analysis

Audience Analysis, Nonprofit Research
Logo Design Principles, Case Studies
For Thursday: Watch Helvetica
Adobe InDesign: The Basics

Photography: Principles & Practices, Case Studies
Adobe Photoshop: The Basics


Revise & Resubmit


For Tuesday: Watch The Conversation (1974)
Unit Two Introduction
Sonic Rhetorics
For Thursday: Watch 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
For Thursday: Watch Murch, Read Murch
Sound for Film/Video: Case Studies

Field Recording Tools & Techniques
Adobe Audition: The Basics of Editing

(no class Tuesday)
In the Field: Audition Project


Revise & Resubmit


Planning for the chaos
For Thursday: Read Storyboarding
Writing for Screens, Storyboarding

Digital Video: Tools & Techniques
Adobe Premiere Pro: The Basics of Editing

Week 13

(no classes Thursday)

Revise & Resubmit

Final Exam: Screening/Critique