Monthly Archives: January 2013

Visual Rhetorics


Big question for the day:  How has photography impacted attitudes towards wilderness?  What can images do and how do they do it?


Writing into the day (10 minutes):  Browse the Ansel Adams gallery for 5 minutes or so.  Pick a photograph that speaks to you.  Why did you pick that image? What does it say to you?  How does it connect with your emerging definition of wilderness?

Pick photo for Full Group Visual Analysis (20 minutes) :  What can we infer (because we have bodies and live with others in society) about this image?  Where are the vectors of attention?  How is the audience involved in the photograph?  How is the image framed?  Are we, as the audience, asked to be intimately involved or distant?  How has the image been cropped to focus our attention?  How do light and color affect us?

Investigation:  Explore the PBS American Experience (25 minutes): Ansel Adams website.  Definitely check out the timeline and the sections on Ansel Adams, Photographing the American Wilderness and Closing the Wilderness.   As you read, make notes about what surprises you, what intrigues you, and what bothers you.  Break as needed during independent reading time.

Full Group Discussion (15 minutes):  How does building historical context and an understanding of photographer, his audience, and his purpose impact our interpretations of Adam’s photos and his writings–including the letter to Cedric?

Workshop (40 minutes): Return to your River Park North wilderness narrative.  What is the theme, message, or significance of your narrative?  How can you use strategies of visual rhetoric to help your image argue as effectively as your words?

Choose an image from that you shot last week at RPN.  Import it into a photo manipulator that will allow you to crop, flip, rotate, play with color and light, and experiment with filters and special effects.  Work to with the tools to make your photo a stronger part of your persuasive argument.  If you do this easily, repeat the process with additional images.  Post the original(s) and the edited photo(s) to a new blog post with a description of what you did and why.

Outdoor Letter Writing (45 minutes)

Based on Adam’s letter to Cedric, write your own letter to a friend explaining an abstract concept or idea such as love, friendship, success, grief, suffering, art, happiness etc. that likens one or more of these abstracts to something you observe on our walk or while we sit.  Try not to obsess over picking the right concept or the right metaphor in nature, just go with it and write.


Finish your photo manipulation blog post and create another post for your letter to a friend.  Feel free to add persuasive images to accompany your letter as well.

Reading:  Read “Thinking Like a Mountain” by Aldo Leopold available on course readings page.  Leave a comment on this post that responds to the question– what does it mean to “think like a mountain”?  How does this notion of being resonate with Dillard, Thoreau, Adams, and/ or your own?  Make connections and show where there might be emerging conflicts.

Also, make sure that you have a copy of and are reading your chosen book–either Becoming Odyssa or A Walk in the Woods as we will discuss those novels during the Winter Wonderland Trip.

Next week we will meet at the ECU Adventure Center to learn about wilderness safety, winter hiking, and snowshoeing.  We’ll also make plans for our trip the following week to Boone.  Start keeping a list of all your questions, concerns, or hopes for the trip!


Writing Your Senses

word cloud student comments

Agenda for 1.23.13

Thoreau & Dillard Discussion Synthesis (15 minutes)

Text sweep:  Looking for evidence of the 5 senses in Thoreau & Dillard (15 minutes)

Field Notes: Capturing the Five Senses (15 minutes)

FIeldnotes RIver Park North

Sharkbait’s Fieldnotes RPN

Walking & Writing What Your Senses Tell You:  Walk until you find a quiet place that engages your senses.  Stop and take a minimum of 30 minutes of field notes.  Capture several images of this place that correlate with your field notes.   (75 minutes)

Debrief: Share and Respond.


Using your field notes, create a 300-500 word personal experience narrative of walking at River Park North.  Like Thoreau and Dillard’s narratives, yours should have vivid detail and should have significance– a sense of purpose for the reader.  Post the narrative and selected images from the trip to your walk by Sunday at noon.

Before class on Wednesday, read and comment (100-200 words) on at least one classmate’s personal experience narrative.  You’ll want to address what intrigued, surprised, or interested you in their story as well as what bothered, confused, or left you, as a reader, unsatisfied.  What questions do you have or what would you like the writer to elaborate on? Did the writer use vivid detail to tell an interesting story with a thought-provoking message or point?  If so, what message did you take away? If not, how might the writer refocus on a theme?

Read “Letters” by Ansel Adams and “Understanding Visual Rhetoric by Anne Wysocki available on the Course Readings page.  Leave a 150-200 word comment on this post that connects to the readings and addresses the following:

Why are images important to us? What sorts of arguments do they make? How do they make these arguments?  What questions are you thinking about regarding images and visual rhetoric?

Next class will meet in Brewster 209 D.  Bring your laptops/tablets and power cords).

Getting Acquainted

1st Day’s Agenda

  • Name Tents/ Random Facts (12:30-12:45)
  • Small Group Website Exploration (12:45-1:50)
  • Break (1:50-2:00)
  • Writing Invitation (2:00-2:15) :
  • What does it mean to be wild?  How do you know?
  • Wilderness Boggle (2:15-2:45)
  • Logistics for Class Trip next Wednesday to River Park North (2:45-3:15) Weather, Clothing, Daybooks, Cameras, Transportation


  • Take the following wilderness attitudes surveys.  Links will be available Wed. evening.
  • Read: “Walking” and “Living Like Weasels” available under Course Readings.  In a comment on this post, respond to the following:
    • For Thoreau, what does it mean to be wild?  And for Dillard?  How does your own definition and way of knowing compare to each of theirs? (300 word minimum).
  • By Saturday, set up your own blog, post your “What Does it Mean to Be Wild” writing invite and email me ( the url.  It should be something like “”.   I will then post all of your blog links to the course blog.
  • Between Sunday and Tuesday at midnight, go to the course blog and click on two (2) classmate’s names to read and respond (100-200 words) to their  posts.  Respond to their ideas, experiences, etc. rather than conventions of the writing, but feel free to agree, disagree, question, or make connections.
  • Next class meets at 12:30 at River Park North.