Academic journal article The Journalism Educator

Reviews -- Visual "Literacy": Image, Mind, and Reality by Paul Messaris

Academic journal article The Journalism Educator

Reviews -- Visual "Literacy": Image, Mind, and Reality by Paul Messaris

Article excerpt

Messaris, Paul (1994). Visual "Literacy": Image, Mind, and Reality. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, Inc., Publishers. 193 pp. Paperback, $17.95. Hardback, $59.

Visual "Literacy" is a thorough treatise on the topic, and the author should be applauded for exploring alternatives to commonly published beliefs on the subject. Unfortunately, the author requires the reader to possess a tremendous historical and theoretical knowledge of the subject before reading his book. The source references within the text require a 15-page single-spaced listing at the conclusion of the narrative. Very few undergraduate or graduate students, and almost no practitioners, have the background, discipline, or time that it takes to fully appreciate this work.

For the scholar of visual literacy, however, this book provides the challenges necessary to fuel debate that potentially can refine and redefine our understanding of visual literacy. Although Messaris states that the intent of this book was "to spell out the details of how visual literacy might enhance critical viewing" rather than to "advance a novel approach," even he admits that we are left with "irreconcilable differences between prevailing scholarly views and the arguments advanced in this book on the relationship between visual images and the appearance of the real world."

The text benefits from its highly interdisciplinary and cross-cultural basis, and includes scholarly references from the cognitive sciences, psychology, biology, anthropology, perception studies, visual semiotics, physiology, and others. …

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