We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Visual Communication and Culture

Images in Action

Jonathan Finn

Publication Date - December 2011

ISBN: 9780195426625

432 pages
7.0 x 9.0 inches

In Stock


A reader for undergraduate students enrolled in second- or third-year visual culture or visual communications courses offered via communication studies and cultural studies departments in universities and colleges nation-wide.

Visual Communication and Culture: Images in Action uses a unique case-study approach to encourage students to critically examine the production and interpretation of images in their personal lives and across a variety of disciplines. Including eighteen selections from existing Canadian, UK, and US works across various disciplines, as well as an additional seven articles written specifically for this text, the twenty-four articles in this collection each emphasize that images are cultural productions. In addition, this volume includes nine easy-to-understand introductions to assist students in becoming visually literate consumers of images, with an understanding of how culture influences practices of visual communication and vice versa.


  • Canadian perspective: The collection includes seven articles specifically commissioned for this collection by prominent and emerging Canadian scholars.
  • Unique case-study approach: Each of the eight parts is organized as a case study around a topic such as communication culture, anatomy, maps, information design, photojournalism, national identity, museums, and audiences.
  • Accessible: Featuring articles selected with a second- and third-year undergraduate audience in mind, each part is prefaced by an engaging introduction that assists readers by contextualizing and highlighting key concepts in the three to four articles that follow. Each part includes reflection questions that incite students to apply their reading to the world around them.
  • Concrete examples: Rather than focussing solely on abstract or theoretical principles, all of the articles present analyses of distinct objects or events. These concrete examples provide students with a clear starting point for discussion and a strong sense of the relevance of visual communication to society and their personal lives.
  • Over 140 images included: An emphasis is placed on integrating textual and visual analysis, with 140 images included within the text.

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Finn is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and a member of the editorial board of Wilfrid Laurier University Press. He is the author of Capturing the Criminal Image: From Mug Shot to Surveillance Society (Minnesota, 2009), as well as numerous essays on surveillance, visual communication, and visual culture. His primary area of research is the history and theory of photography, with specific interest in institutional uses of the medium. He is currently developing a new research project on visual communication technologies and sport.

Table of Contents

    Table of Contents
    List of Contributors
    Introduction and Suggested Further Reading
    Part One: Images, Communication, and Culture
    Introduction to Part One
    1. 'Recapitulation', William M. Ivins, Jr
    2. 'The Visual Image: Its Place in Communication', E.H. Gombrich
    3. 'In Plato's Cave', Susan Sontag
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Two: Images of the Body
    Introduction to Part Two
    4. 'Blood and Circuses', Kate Cregan
    5. 'A Cultural Anatomy of the Visible Human Project', Lisa Cartwright
    6. 'Flesh in Wax: Demystifying the Skin Colours of the Common Crayon', Lorna Roth *
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Three: Visual Evidence
    Introduction to Part Three
    7. 'Professional Vision', Charles Goodwin
    8. 'Visual Literacy in Action: "Law in the Age of Images"', Richard K. Sherwin
    9. 'The Pleasures of Looking: The Attorney General's Commission on Pornography versus Visual Images', Carole S. Vance
    10. 'The Suspicious and the Self-Promotional: About Those Photographs We Post on Facebook', Ira Wagman*
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Four: Maps, Charts, and Diagrams
    Introduction to Part Four
    11. 'Deconstructing the Map', J.B. Harley
    12. 'Mind the Gap: The London Underground Map and Users' Representations of Urban Space', Janet Vertesi
    13. 'Powell's Point: Denial and Deception at the UN', Jonathan Finn
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Five: Images in the News: Photojournalism
    Introduction to Part Five
    14. 'To Tell the Truth: Codes of Objectivity in Photojournalism', Dona Schwartz
    15. 'Photojournalism and the Tabloid Press', Karin E. Becker
    16. 'Miller's Crossing: War, Surrealism, and Vogue', Karen Engle*
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Six: Collecting Culture: The Museum
    Introduction to Part Six
    17. 'The Modern Art Museum: It's a Man's World', Carol Duncan
    18. '"Whiffs of Balsam, Pine, and Spruce": Art Museums and the Production of a Canadian Aesthetic', Anne Whitelaw
    19. 'The Mask Stripped Bare by Its Curators: The Work of Hybridity in the Twenty-First Century', Ruth B. Phillips
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Seven: Images and National Identity
    Introduction to Part Seven
    20. 'Through a Canadian Lens: Discourses of Nationalism and Aboriginal Representation in Governmental Photographs', Carol Payne
    21. 'Votes for Stoves: Everywoman's World and the Canadian Citizen/Consumer in the Early Twentieth Century', Anne-Marie Kinahan*
    22. 'Meatballs Matters', Peter Urquhart*
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading
    Part Eight: Images and Their Audiences
    Introduction to Part Eight
    23. 'Television in the Family Circle', Lynn Spigel
    24. 'Virtually Live: Digital Broadcast Cinema and the Performing Arts', Paul Heyer*
    25. 'From Counting Calories to Fun Food: Regulating the TV Diet in the Age of Obesity', Stephen Kline and Jacqueline Botterill*
    Questions for Reflection and Suggested Further Reading

Related Titles