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

Humanizing Visual Design

The Rhetoric of Human Forms in Practical Communication

By Charles Kostelnick


256 pages

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Hardback: 9781138071513
pub: 2018-08-01

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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. 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, visualizing social and cultural identities, and evoking pathos appeals. 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


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

2. Human Forms in Action: Agency and Empowerment, both Individual and Collective

3. Animating Visual Narratives with Agency: Temporality, Pictures, and Human Forms

4. Figures in Cultural Context: Envisioning Identity with Human Forms

5. Emotional Appeals in Picturing People: The Rhetoric of Equanimity and Distress

6. Humanizing Data Visualization: The Rhetorical Dynamics of Designing 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!

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Subject Categories

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