English Teaching: Practice and Critique

Literacy and the visual: Broadening our vision

Volume 4 Number 1 May 2005

Jon Callow (The University of Sydney)

The inclusion of visual images in current educational literacy discussions tends to contextualise them within more semiotic, socio-critical and textually focussed theoretical traditions. These particular traditions privilege and emphasise the structures and “language-like” aspects of visual images, and include the broader social and cultural structural frames, such as gender and class, as well as the specific codes and “grammars” of individual images. While there are strong benefits in employing these approaches, the nature of visual images themselves may require a broader, interdisciplinary approach. This paper will include discussion of the field of visual culture in general, the unique nature of images, the role of philosophy in regard to image, the inclusion of the individual’s hermeneutic role in meaning-making, and the attendant educational implications when applying such work to contemporary educational literacy practice.