JOUR-J 210 Visual Communication

Summer 1 M/W 1:00 – 4:15 pm. What you see is what you get. Or is it? This class explores how images communicate meaning and how we, as consumers and producers of them, are affected.

“There can be no words without images.”
– Aristotle

“If students aren’t taught the language of sound and images, shouldn’t they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read or write?”
– George Lucas, filmmaker

Instructor – Dr. Alec R. Hosterman, Senior Lecturer and Chair of Communication Studies
Phone – 574.520.4883
E-mail –
Office – Northside 033K
Office Hours – By appointment

Course Day/Time – Summer 1  Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00 – 4:15 pm
Course Location – Northside 0044
Required Text – Visual Communication: Images With Messages, 6th edition by Paul Martin Lester

Link to specific course policies.

Read this: Writing a Paper for Dr. Hosterman

Images bombard us on a daily basis, from magazine advertisements to television programs to artwork in museums. It is in the act of sending and receiving these messages that have bind us to being (and becoming) a visual culture. J210 explores the way in which images affect viewers, as well as the different mediums that employ images.

Upon completing the course, students will beable to understand and complete the following objectives:

  • Know how to “read images by both looking at, and perceiving, what is presented;
  • Understand and apply theories of visual rhetoric, such as communication, persuasion, semiotics, color theory, gestalt, and graphic design;
  • Understand and identify mediums available to visual communicators, such as art, photography, television, advertising, music videos, commercials, film, comics, and comics;
  • Understand the practical implications for visual communicators in their respective fields, including the graphic arts, typography, and advertising.

Throughout the semester, you will produce deliverables (assignments) that gauge your level of comprehension and application of the material in the course. These include:

  • Blog Postings – Set up a free blog at WordPress ( and send me the address of your blog (e.g., by 5/20. After each class, you will write a blog post that discusses something in our visual world that relates to the day’s topic. Blog postings are due on 5/21, 5/28, 6/2, 6/4, 6/9, 6/11, 6/16, 6/18, 6/23, and 6/25. Blog postings are due no later than 48 hours after the class. Postings after that time will only receive 1/2 credit. Each post is worth 30 points, for a total of  300 points.
  • Examinations – There are 3 exams in this summer course, each worth 200 points. They will contain a combination of multiple choice, true-and-false, matching, image identification, and short answer questions. Worth a total of 600 points.
  • Attendance and Participation – The easiest part of your grade is assessed by your attendance in class and participation in discussion and activities: don’t fall asleep, be respectful of others, and contribute. Worth 100 points.


The following schedule is tentative.  I reserve the right to change it depending upon our pace through the course, however I will give advanced notice.

Download really, really, really old course PowerPoints:

05.19  Introduction to the Class. Communication and Persuasion (no readings).

05.21  Visual Communication (ch. 1); The More You Know, The More You See (ch. 16); Visual Cues (ch. 2)

05.26  No Class – Memorial Day

05.28  finish ch. 2 (if needed); Visual Theories (ch. 3)

06.02  Visual Stereotypes (ch. 5); Exam #1 (over chapters 1, 2, 3, 16, and communication/persuasion material)

06.04  Typography (ch. 7); Infographics (ch. 9)

06.09  Cartoons (ch. 10)

06.11  Photography (ch. 11)

06.16  Music (no readings); Exam #2 (over chapters 5, 7, 9, 10, and 11)

06.18  Motion Pictures (ch. 12)

06.23  Television (ch. 13)

06.25  Visual Persuasion (ch. 4)

06.30  Exam #3 (over chapters 4, 12, 13, and music)


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