Humanizing Visual Design: The Rhetoric of Human Forms in Practical Communication, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Humanizing Visual Design

The Rhetoric of Human Forms in Practical Communication, 1st Edition

By Charles Kostelnick


280 pages | 115 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138071513
pub: 2019-04-03
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This book analyzes the role that human forms play in visualizing practical information and in making that information understandable, accessible, inviting, and meaningful to readers—in short, "humanizing" it.

Although human figures have long been deployed in practical communication, their uses in this context have received little systematic analysis. Drawing on rhetorical theory, art history, design studies, and historical and contemporary examples, the book explores the many rhetorical purposes that human forms play in functional pictures, including empowering readers, narrating processes, invoking social and cultural identities, fostering pathos appeals, and visualizing data.

The book is aimed at scholars, teachers, and practitioners in business, technical, and professional communication as well as an interdisciplinary audience in rhetoric, art and design, journalism, engineering, marketing, science, and history.


"The Visual Rhetoric of Human Forms in Practical Communication is destined to become an essential book for anyone serious about the study of the human figure in functional communication. Drawing on a wide range of historical and contemporary images, Charles Kostelnick argues persuasively that human figures in design are essential to understanding processes and stories." -Marguerite Helmers, Defining Visual Rhetorics

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Foundations for Picturing Human Forms: Conventions, Historical Context, and the Confluence of the Fine and Applied Arts

Chapter 2. Agency and Empowerment: Figures in Action, Both Individual and Collective

Chapter 3. Narratives with Figures: Temporal Dimensions of Designing Information with Human Forms

Chapter 4. Figure Design in Cultural Context: Transformations in Visualizing Identity with Human Forms

Chapter 5. Expressing Emotion with Figures: A Rhetorical Spectrum of Pathos Appeals from Happiness to Distress

Chapter 6.Humanizing Data Design:The Rhetorical and Perceptual Dynamics of

Visualizing Data with Human Forms



About the Author

Charles Kostelnick is Professor of English at Iowa State University, USA

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Technical Communication, Rhetoric, and Culture

This series promotes innovative, interdisciplinary research in the theory and practice of technical communication, broadly conceived as including business, scientific, and health communication. Technical communication has an extensive impact on our world and our lives, yet the venues for long-format research in the field are few. This series serves as an outlet for scholars engaged with the theoretical, practical, rhetorical, and cultural implications of this burgeoning field. The editors welcome proposals for book-length studies and edited collections involving qualitative and quantitative research and theoretical inquiry into technical communication and associated fields and topics, including user-centered design; information design; intercultural communication; risk communication; new media; social media; visual communication and rhetoric; disability/accessibility issues; communication ethics; health communication; applied rhetoric; and the history and current practice of technical, business, and scientific communication.

The series is proud to congratulate Ehren Pflugfelder on winning the 2018 CCCC Technical and Scientific Communication Award in the category of Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication for the book Communicating Technology and Mobility: A Material Rhetoric for Persuasive Transportation!

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies