I'll be teaching my Visual Politics course again this fall. Although I have *lots* of other summer work to do before it's time to revise my syllabus (see here and here for ideas about how to manage one's dreams of summer productivity), I've begun accumulating materials to add to the next version of the course.
When the politics change, the visuals change. I have started past semesters with studies of the economic crisis, the election, and health care reform. A lot can happen between now and August, of course, but the story of the year is definitely the oil spill. These two pieces from LENS (the NYT photo blog) will orient the students to some visual conventions of depicting environmental crisis. We'll also examine the media phenomenon that is (was?) the live underwater video feed; let's hope it's not still gushing live in August.
One theme of the course is "visualizing and informing" - those visuals that depict information and visualize relationships via maps, charts, and diagrams. We spend some time with the work of Edward Tufte in this unit, reading his arguments against PowerPoint and using Colin Powell's ill-fated speech to the U.N. in 2003 as a case study. Recently I've found a couple of things to add to this unit: a New York Times story (and related links) on the U.S. military's ambivalence about PowerPoint and an NPR feature on Edward Tufte aired just this past weekend. Tufte's now consulting with the federal government on data visualization; some of his work can be seen at recovery.gov.
Lastly, I'm always interested in accumulating more appropriations of popular images we study throughout the semester, like the Obama HOPE poster. The cat above is struggling with the injustice of clay cat litter, while this guy is struggling with the injustice of being fired, getting a lot of money in severance, and getting a new TV show. Hope, indeed.