Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions (Paperback)

Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions By Charles Kostelnick, Michael Hassett Cover Image


From charts, texts, and graphs to illustrations, icons, and screens, we live in an information age saturated with visual language. Yet the underlying principles that provide structure for visual language have long eluded scholars of rhetoric, design, and engineering. To function as a language that reliably conveys meaning, visual language must embody codes that normalize its practices among both the designers who employ it and the readers who interpret it.

In this wide-ranging analysis, Charles Kostelnick and Michael Hassett demonstrate how visual language in professional communication—text design, data displays, illustrations—is shaped by conventional practices that are invented, codified, and modified by users in visual discourse communities. Drawing on rhetorical theory, design studies, and a broad array of historical and contemporary examples, Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions explores the processes by which conventions evolve and proliferate and shows how conventions serve as the medium that designers use to shape, stabilize, and streamline visual information.

Kostelnick and Hassett extend contemporary theories that define rhetoric as a social act, arguing that visual conventions also thrive within discourse communities and are fragile forms that vary widely in their longevity and scope. Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions is a thorough guide for scholars, teachers and practitioners of rhetoric and business and technical communication and for professionals in engineering, science, design, and business.

Praise For…

“Charles Kostelnick and Michael Hassett have written a useful and informative book that explores the relation of textual conventions of all sorts to the visual display of information. . . . [Shaping Information] significantly enlarges how we think about conventions, and it will influence its readers to reconsider the arts of visual rhetoric.” — Stephen A. BernhardtRhetoric Review 

“[Shaping Information] is a useful and important part of the discussion of visual communication. . . . This is a book worth reading and re-reading.” — Susan N. SmithInformation Design Journal Document Design 

Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions by Charles Kostelnick and Michael Hassett provide[s an] accessible and welcome [addition] to the previously slim selection of book-length studies exploring the processes by which designers shape-and readers or users interpret-visual communication. . . . Shaping Information [is a] fascinating [study] that promise[s] to enrich the teaching and study of visual communication now and in the future.” — Bege K. BowersTechnical Communication Quarterly 

“Kostelnick and Hassett have written a sound and much needed book. Their framework for visual convention not only organizes unexplored territory in visual theory but also provides a theoretical system and structure of convention that can be used by theorists of writing. Their book makes a satisfying and thoroughly convincing case for the rhetorical basis of visual design.”—David KauferJournal of Business and Technical Communication 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780809338788
ISBN-10: 0809338785
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication Date: June 6th, 2022
Pages: 280
Language: English