Taina Brown

Images saturate our world and it is, therefore, imperative that visual literacy scholarship and theoretical frameworks be made accessible to those outside of academia creating a more critical and feminist visual literacy for all. Feminist frameworks deal with issues of social hierarchies, power, and influence that marginalize and/or oppress groups of people while privileging others. These hierarchies create systems of oppression that promote hegemonic privilege of the patriarchal dominant group while imposing hegemonic domination of other/ed groups. How does feminism and gender studies contribute to the on-going dialogue centered on visual literacies? Within the context of visual literacy, feminist works help draw attention to the political economy and coded meaning of images, showing how representation, misrepresentation, or lack of representation continues to perpetuate common tropes of marginalized groups. By utilizing the theoretical framework of the gaze—and more particularly, the male gaze—feminism and gender studies deconstruct the coded meanings found in visual images, thus giving the viewer a more critical and conceptual history in which to place a visual image. Using John Berger’s framework of the nude and the naked, I will also decode images to see how bodies are stripped down for spectatorship or for inherent worth. By juxtaposing images of men and women in contemporary publications, I evaluate both the intended spectator and the intended meaning, and thus move toward a more critical observance of how images are used to manipulate audiences, as well as how bodies are represented to market the intended meaning of the image. These analyses help develop a more socially conscious and objective standpoint and a more informed citizen that actively engages with and creates media, instead of merely participating in spectatorship.

Taina Brown and Alejandro Mieses Castellanos

Edited by Taina Brown and Alejandro Mieses Castellanos

Shaping visual literacy has been at the forefront of contemporary discourse, as images have increasingly surpassed words in becoming the primary vehicles to persuade our emotions. Visually encoded domains of symbols and signs inform the educational, public and entertainment industries increasingly as an undifferentiated whole, aided by globalizing media forces in various forms. Whether top-down, peer-peer, one-to-may, or many-to-many, this volume attempts to derive sets of rules used to visually decode patterns present in certain media formats – press, cinema, television and maps, among others – and the place of the spectator in their respective dynamics. The topics discussed transition through various approaches to deconstruct mass media influences to engage critical thinking skills, and ending with a collection of chapters dedicated to exploring their effects upon children, and the capacity to be implemented to foster collaboration-based creative learning environments.