Writing with Images

As Lynn Steen so eloquently puts it, "The world of the twenty-first century is a world awash in numbers." This is no more evident than in the realm of the visual. Whether on the pages of the New York Times, in the lower-left corner of every USA Today front page, or between plays on Monday Night Football, images representing data are everywhere. And this is not mere entertainment. Well-crafted visual representations of data can be powerful tools in exploring quantitative relationships and rhetorically presenting them to others. How can we improve our students' abilities to present quantitative arguments in images?

Fortunately, in answering this question we need not start from scratch. Technical writing experts have already thought hard about the technical, rhetorical, and ethical issues surrounding the use of images in writing. During this workshop we will learn about that work and apply it to assignments in our own courses.

Workshop Goals

  • Provide participants with a vocabulary to discuss and develop visual arrangement in student work
  • Deepen participants' appreciation for the rhetoric of images
  • Equip participants to teach students how to produce visual texts
  • Expose participants to the ethical dimensions of image production and arrangement
  • Aid participants with strategies for the assessment of images in writing assignments

Workshop Agenda


Anne's short bibliography of texts on the visual aspects of texts, in culture and different disciplines
Carleton's 2008 study of visuality exhibited in the curriculum: Curricular Uses of Visual Materials: A Mixed-Method Institutional Study
Few, Stephen. 2004. Show Me the Numbers. Oakland, CA: Analytics Press.
Miller, Jane E. 2004. The Chicago Guide to Writing about Numbers: The Effective Presentation of Quantitative Information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Tufte, Edward R. 1990. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.
Tufte, Edward R. 1997. Visual Explanations. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.
Tufte, Edward R. 2001. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.
Wainer, Howard. 2005. Graphic Discovery: A Trout in the Milk and Other visual Adventures. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Workshop Conveners

Anne Wysocki, Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Carol Rutz, Department of English and Director of the Writing Program Carleton College
Victoria Morse, Department of History and Director of the Visuality initiative, Carleton College
Nathan Grawe, Department of Economics and Director of the QuIRK initiative

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