1st Edition

Humanizing Visual Design
The Rhetoric of Human Forms in Practical Communication

ISBN 9781138071513
Published April 3, 2019 by Routledge
280 Pages 115 B/W Illustrations

USD $155.00

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Book Description

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.

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




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


"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