1. January 19. First class meeting

Overview of the course and issues related to visual narrative, visual materials in research.


2. January 26

2a. Introduction to Visual Research

Pink, S. (2003). Interdisciplinary agendas in visual research: re-situating visual anthropology. Visual Studies, 18(2), 179-192.

Becker, H.S., 2010. Photography and Sociology, American Ethnography Quasiweekly,

A reprint of a 1974 article.  We’re not as interested in his discussion of sociology and sociological theory as we are in his discussion of photography, how it can be used, and what sorts of problems face the photographer/social scientist.

Pauwels, L. (2010). Visual sociology reframed: an analytical synthesis and discussion of visual methods in social and cultural research.Sociological methods and research, 38(4) 545-581

Copy saved in course collection.  Excellent overview of many options and decisions about what visual materials to use (including existing materials) and how to make them.

Pink, Sarah. 2004. “In and out of the academy: video ethnography of the home.” Visual Anthropology Review 20:82-88.

Talks about a project that she did for a commercial client and then used for academic research, and the relationships between these two domains. A very practical account of the similarities and differences.

2b. Ethics

Papademas, D., 2009. The International Visual Sociology Association 2009 IVSA Code of Research Ethics and Guidelines. Visual Studies 24, 250–257. Saved in course file.

Cross-cultural filmmaking [electronic resource]: a handbook for making documentary and ethnographic films and videos:  chapter on Ethics.

2c. Visual Media and Professional Practice

In this session, we’ll set up a basis for future discussion by considering the current practices and understandings with visual materials in various disciplines relevant to this class.   Many students are interested in usability/user experience research. We’ll add other domains depending on who’s in the class.

Please do some investigation in your own area(s) of interest and bring us examples of (1) videos/films and/or (2) still images.

How professionals and researchers use media for data collection, analysis, and presentation.

Viewing/critiquing available media products.


YouTube and Vimeo are treasure troves of videos for a variety of purposes — unfortunately, it’s impossible to separate the good from the bad.  A lot of the material is student projects. Here are some sources of videos that someone has considered good (I don’t vouch for these choices).

Tomlin, Craig. Useful usability: 10 must-see usability videos. April 15, 2010.

World Usability Day 2008, Usability Video Contest 2007/2008: “Everyday Usability Troubles.” (They don’t seem to have repeated this contest since then.)  Winning videos.

Bolt | Peters is a well-respected User Experience Research firm that puts a lot of their videos on Vimeo.


Flickr and Google Images are good sources for still images.  Again, it’s hard to separate the good from the bad.

3. Feb. 2. Practices of Seeing

What and how we see, how we interpret what we see, is dependent on a variety of cultural and situational factors.

Sturken, M., Cartwright, L., 2001. Practices of Looking: image, power, and politics.In Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford University Press, Oxford ; New York; Read ONLY pp. 10-31. (Of course you can read more if you want to.) Representation, and the myth of photographic truth.

Goodwin, C., 2001. Practices of Seeing Visual Analysis: An Ethnomethodological Approach. in: van Leeuwen, T., and Jewitt, C., (Eds.), Handbook of Visual Analysis. SAGE, London. Some students will be familiar with the research on seeing described here.We’re most concerned with the discussion starting on p.11 (164).  As you read, think about practices in your own domain.

How understanding of images is affected by culture and situation. How professionals learn to use and interpret images. How professionals interpret visual materials for others.

Think about your own profession and the ways that you have learned to use and understand images; and how images are often part of conversations and presentations, not necessarily operating on their own.

Bring your camera — we’ll continue our discussion of cameras and photography basics.

4. Feb 9. Practices of Seeing: Appoaches to Analysis of Images

Three readings from van Leeuwen, T., Jewitt, C., 2001. Handbook of Visual Analysis. SAGE, London.

Van Leeuwen and Jewitt — intro to the book — good for an overview of what we are reading and the other chapters in the book.

Collier, M.,  Approaches to Analysis in Visual Anthropology. The Colliers’ work in New Mexico was groundbreaking.

Lister, M., Wells, L.,  Seeing Beyong Belief: Cultural Studies as an Approach to Analysing the Visible.


On your way to class — somewhere between your bed and room 205 SH — take 3 pictures to share with the rest of us that say something about your morning. (Of course you can take more and pick the 3 you like best — the point is to produce 3 to show the rest of us.)  Use whatever camera you’re bringing to class, which will likely range from dSLR to cameraphone.  We’ll either transfer images from your camera or card to our laptop, or plug your laptop into the projector.  People’s skills range a lot, so don’t stress out over this! The only way to learn to do photography is to DO photography.

5. Feb. 16.The Power of the Visual

Visual texts — images and film — are different from words and from abstractions and generalizations.

1. Freedberg, D., 1989.  “Introduction.”  In The Power of Images : Studies in the History and Theory of Response. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Emailed.

Freedberg is the art historian I keep citing who argues that art history leaves out the non-cognitive and people’s responses to images. There’s not much of the book that can be detached and read on its own, so this just gives the barest of introductions to his arguments.

2. MacDougall, D.,  1998. “Visual anthropology and ways of knowing.”  In Transcultural Cinema. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. Emailed.

MacDougall is well-known within visual anthro and ethnographic film for arguing for “participatory” rather than “observational” ethnographic film; and for thinking and writing about the role of the visual in anthropological research.   We are taking a broader perspective than the anthropological, but his arguments are relevant: our interest is in photography and film as ways of knowing.

Note that I bought a used copy of this book so the annotations are NOT MINE.

OPTIONAL but  recommended: You  can view some of MacDougall’s  films here:
Need to be on a campus machine – or (probably) connected by library proxy.

3. Barthes, R., 2003 [1984]. Extracts from Camera Lucida. in: Wells, L., (Ed.), The Photography Reader. Routledge, London, 19-30. Someone conveniently  (and no doubt in violation of copyright) has put this online. This is a classic.


Please tell some sort of story in 3 images.  It can be about your weekend, your trip to campus, your child, your cat, someone you see on the street….Or about doing something, like making dinner, going for a bike ride, playing a sport…But the images need to be able to tell your story *without captions, without you present to explain them.*

Something mundane — don’t go out looking for excitement — the point is to:

1. make images

2. tell a story with images only

6. Feb. 23: Video; Visual Narrative

revised 4/1/11 for next time

Marie-Laure Ryan, ed. Narrative across media : the languages of storytelling Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2004:

Ch. 4: Wendy Steiner, Pictorial narrative (Emailed)

Ch 12: Marie-Laure Ryan, Will new media produce new narratives? (Emailed)

Our emphasis is on creating narratives, but we are also concerned with hearing and understanding the narratives of  research participants.

American Film Institute, The Basics of Screenwriting (5 sessions)

Jane Elliott (2005), Using Narrative in Social Research.  Sage. Narrative and new developments in the social sciences.The book is available online.  Some of you will find other chapters useful, too.  Accessible via the library’s proxy.

P. Henley, Narratives: The Guilty Secret of Ethnographic Film Making?, in: M. Postma, P.I. Crawford (Eds.) Reflecting Visual Ethnography: Using the Camera in Anthropological Research, 2006, 358-375.  [need to copy/scan]

Freytag’s pyramid

A useful tool: Storycharts I happened across this — looks useful

Be experimenting with iMovie or the equivalent.

Optional but potentially useful, depending on your project:

Jules-Rosette, B., McVey, C., & Arbitrario, M. (2002). Performance Ethnography: The Theory and Method of Dual Tracking. Field Methods, 14(2), 123-147. interesting way to use video — incls video commentary on the video. “The ethnographic subject and videomakers work collaboratively to uncover the interior realities motivating the performance. The authors review previous approaches to ethnographic filmmaking and then suggest digital video overlay as a method of presenting the actual performances and the subjective experiences of performers simultaneously.”

7. March 2. Sound


Stretching Sound to Help the Mind See by Walter Murch

On Sound – by Walter Murch (added March 28)

Wingstedt, J., Brändström, S., & Berg, J. (2010). Narrative Music, Visuals and Meaning in Film. Visual Communication, 9, 193-210. How music affects the meaning.

* The piece on narrative music has a nice breakdown of the movie Jaws; you may want to poke around on YouTube for some more leitmotifs–there are some pretty fun ones out there, like the Pink Panther for example.
* reflect on how sound is used on news programs, TV soap operas, TV comedy, films…… if you happen to be watching something this week, turn the sound down and experience what the difference is for your experience, and/or play with adding different music sound tracks to things you are watching.
* for next week also bring a short video to edit, we will play around with sounds – if you have time feel free to create a couple of pieces with different sound tracks.
* Check these out on YouTube:

Early film:
Sound effects:
Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929) – – irritating ’80′s bloke so I would start at 1 minute 30 seconds to minimise his intro.
Famous for sound: – the Jazz Singer, recorded sound — a little overblown but some nice examples – the trailer for The Conversation – Coppola’s film is all about sound and what is heard versus what is seen, and how it is interpreted.

Finally, a useful distinction that we discussed in passing today is the following — bear this in mind as you are watching this week and as you are thinking about what you would like to do with sound for your class project: Diegetic sound versus Non-diegetic sound

Diegesis is a Greek word for “recounted story”. The film’s diegesis is the total world of the story action. Diegetic sound, therefore, is a sound whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film. Examples include:

* voices of characters
* sounds made by objects in the story
* music represented as coming from instruments in the story space
( = source music)

Diegetic sound is any sound presented as originated from source within the film’s world. Diegetic sound can be either on screen or off screen depending on whatever its source is within the frame or outside the frame. Another term for diegetic sound is ‘actual sound’.

Non-diegetic sound is sound whose source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action. This could be:

* narrator’s commentary
* sound effects which is added for the dramatic effect
* mood music

Non-diegetic sound is represented as coming from the a source outside story space. Another term for non-diegetic sound is commentary sound.

The distinction between diegetic or non-diegetic sound depends on our understanding of the conventions of film viewing and listening.  We know of that certain sounds are represented as coming from the story world, while others are represented as coming from outside the space of the story events. Playing with diegetic and non-diegetic conventions can be used to create ambiguity (horror), or to surprise the audience (comedy).

8. March 9.

To do: If you’re attending Info Camp over the weekend, you could use it as an opportunity to make images and/or short videos.


-Interview someone about why they are there; do something more than a simple talking head video. What? Up to you.

-Take a series of images that tell some story related to the camp.  Add audio? Music, voice-over?

For class:

-Pick one (preferably more!) of the readings

-Make (or choose) a short media product that illustrates some key points of the chosen reading(s)

-Post the mediaFor class Wed:

-Pick one (preferably more!) of the readings

-Make (or choose) a short media product that illustrates some key points of the chosen reading(s)

-Post the media for the rest of us– on Flickr, or on the blog, or elsewhere (YouTube?)

-Write and post on the blog 1-3 paragraphs describing how the media articulates with the reading

Readings: don’t go for the short and obvious.  The point is to stretch yourself in relating the academic and hands-on content of this class.


-Best of all: base this on your project for the class. Use some of your media capture, or, failing that, something you find online that’s similar.

-Good: make something, not necessarily related to your project.

-If necessary: draw on existing media, such as images you find online or a YouTube video.  If possible, choose something that is consonant with your project.

Given the time, we’re not going for high production values but for intellectual engagement with the readings.

9. March 16.

a. Continue presentations of student work from last week.

b. Semiotics, more:

Barthes, R. (2003). Rhetoric of the image. In L. Wells (Ed.), The photography reader. London: Routledge.  (Not my scan)

c. Editing

  • Liz Danzico. 2010. BETWEEN THE LINES: The art of editing: the new old skills for a curated life. interactions 17, 1 (January 2010), 16-19. This overlaps with the topics of interest for us.
  • Barrett Golding,From Edit to Air. November 16th, 2001. Special Feature w/ Hearing Voices. A concrete example of editing for radio.

Below are from the perspectives of journalism and oral history, not social science research. But very useful.

March 23 – Spring Break

10. March 30.  Presenting One’s Work


Our emphasis is on creating narratives, but we are also concerned with hearing and understanding the narratives of  research participants.

American Film Institute, The Basics of Screenwriting (5 sessions)

Jane Elliott (2005), Using Narrative in Social Research.  Sage. Narrative and new developments in the social sciences.The book is available online.  Some of you will find other chapters useful, too.  Accessible via the library’s proxy.

Freytag’s pyramid

A useful tool: Storycharts I happened across this — looks useful.


Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., & Luff, P. (2010). Video in qualitative research : analysing social interaction in everyday life. Los Angeles: SAGE. ch 6: Preparing presentations and publications. (Will be scanned shortly 3/28 10 am)

11. April 6 – Materiality, Media, and Evidence

What difference does it make, to use different modes and media for presentations? Text vs images; digital vs paper; on a small screen vs on a wall screen?

J. Finn, Powell’s point: ‘denial and deception’ at the UN, Visual Communication, 9 (2010) pp. 25-49.  Claims that Powell didn’t properly understand or use the differences among the media he was using.  transcript, audio and color slides of Powell’s speech.

Jay David Bolter. Remediation and the Desire for Immediacy Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies March 2000 6: 62-71.  Remediation is an important concept for understanding the relationships among different media.

Edwards, E.  (2002) Material beings: objecthood and ethnographic photographs. Visual Studies, 17: 67-76.  Photographs as material objects: their materiality matters.

Gilje, Working in tandem with editing tools: iterative meaning-making in filmmaking practices, Visual Communication, 10 (2011) pp. 45-62.  Reflexivity?!  “This article analyses how novice learners make use of sophisticated editing software for moving images as a ‘tool for thinking’ about the visual when editing moving images.”

12. April 13.

a. Relationships with participants

J. Lydall, I. Strecker, Men and women on both sides of the camera, in: M. Postma, e. Peter I. Crawford (Eds.) Reflecting Visual Ethnography: Using the Camera in Anthropological Research CNWS Publications Leiden, 2006.  Think about what this says about the kinds of participants and relationships you’re likely to encounter. They talk in particular about gender issues, but we’ll focus on the kinds of similarities and differences between us and our participants that may be relevant.

A review of this book says of this chapter:
The third section, “Sociality,” explores the relationships between those behind and in front of the camera during filming, as well as cultural understandings of personhood and status underlying social processes. Chapter 7, by Jean Lydall and Ivo Strecker, is one of the strongest in the volume. Emphasizing the role of the relationship and rapport between filmmakers and those being filmed, and succinctly addressing key topics revealed by the authors’ use of film in ethnography, this chapter takes an important step toward demystifying the multiplexed roles and agendas of all participants in ethnographic filming.

T. Clark, On ‘being researched’: why do people engage with qualitative research?, Qualitative Research, 10 (2010) pp. 399-419.

W. Luttrell, “A camera is a big responsibility”: a lens for analysing children’s visual voices, Visual Studies, 25 (2010) pp. 224 – 237.  Our emphasis here is on considering the researcher’s relationships to participants who are children.

b. Practical Issues

I’ll send out links to some short online media products that we’ll discuss. We’ll look at both the macro issues of narrative structure, and the micro issues of image choice composition.  We’ll also discuss what we can see of the relationship between media-maker and participants.  Please review these media products before class.

13. April 20. Dilemmas

Please bring rough cuts, candidate images or sound bites, whatever we can help you review!

J.D. Hammond, Photography and ambivalence Visual Studies, 19 (2004) pp. 135-145.

S. Sliwinski, A painful labour: responsibility and photography Visual Studies, 19 (2004) pp. 150-162.

S. Sontag, Regarding The Torture Of Others, in:  New York Times Magazine, 2004.

14. April 27. Wrap-Up

Please bring rough cuts, candidate images or sound bites, whatever we can help you review!

15. May 4. RRR Week. Student presentations.

Tentatively 9-1 pm.  There may be a faculty meeting at 12 that will pre-empt us.

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