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Paperback 432 pp.
97 photos; 6 figures; 1 table, 7" x 9"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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Visual Communication and Culture

Images in Action

Edited by Jonathan Finn

This innovative new reader brings together twenty-five articles - both previously published and original contributions - to critically examine the production and interpretation of images across a variety of disciplines. Readings have been organized into eight thematic parts that function as case studies, using concrete examples to stress the real-world implications of images and visual communication. An accessible introduction to each section helps students develop visual literacy skills and prepare for the readings that follow, while coverage of 'images in action' throughout offers analysis of visual communication in different fields, including anatomy, law, cartography, museology, and photojournalism. Engaging and accessible, Visual Communication and Culture: Images in Action is essential reading for students interested in learning about the impact of images on society.

Readership : Students taking an introductory-level visual communications or visual culture course at the second- or third-year level in college or university.


  • "This text fills a gap in textbooks on the topic of visual culture and communication. . .. A thoughtful and lively collection of relevant essays that are teachable, readable, and most importantly, engaging."

    --Dr. Michelle Meagher, University of Alberta

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

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

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.

Practices of Looking - Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright
Practices of Looking - Marita Sturken, Lisa Cartwright and Susan Douglas

Special Features

  • Canadian and international perspectives. With an emphasis on Canadian scholarship, this collection includes twenty-five selections from North America and the United Kingdom and features seven brand new articles prepared expressly for this volume by both prominent and emerging Canadian scholars.
  • Unique case-study approach. Each of the eight parts is organized as a case study on topics such as communication culture, anatomy, maps, photojournalism, and museums, helping students grasp key theoretical and methodological concepts through exploration of the 'real-life' implications of visual communication and culture.
  • Engaging introductions. Highlighting key concepts, introductions to each part offer context for the readings that follow.
  • Accessible. Readings have been selected with the undergraduate student in mind; reflection questions in each part encourage students to become active participants in their learning.
  • Concrete examples. Stressing the connection between theory and real life, each article presents analyses of distinct objects or events, helping students recognize how visual communication impacts both society and their own lives.
  • Abundance of images. With over 100 images incorporated throughout, this reader seamlessly integrates textual and visual analysis.
  • Interdisciplinary. Works from history, anthropology, communication studies, science studies, and cultural studies are represented, offering students a well-balanced treatment of visual culture.