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"The more you see, the more you know. The more you know, the more you see." Aldous Huxley
"Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing."
Little Elf Judy, The Santa Clause

Course schedule
(subject to change, so don't print out once and treat as gospel; refer back regularly)

Class session
Texts, Readings, Resources
Week 1: Monday, July 3 & Wednesday, July 5

Semiotics and the grammar and syntax of visual rhetoric

Semiotics of architecture; prep for first field trip and safari

Comic books and graphic novels

Apkon, chapters 1 & 2
Signs and Symbols
Light as metaphor

DUE: First two safaris -- object as symbol of you; unusual or exotic or bizarre piece of visual culture

Should by now have read:

Tuesday, July 4

Field Trip 1: Architecture as Visual Rhetoric

Pompidou, a cathedral, Le Marais Shoah Museum, Breakfast in America

Safari: An architectural riddle (and an exploration of metaphor)

Week 2: Monday, July 10 & Wednesday, July 12

Apkon, chapter 3
Semiotics (Berger, Peirce)
Cognitive theory (memory)
Denotation/Connotation (Barthes)

Metonymy (Snicker's ad)

Seeing, sensing, selecting and perceiving

Color, form, depth, movement

DUE Monday: Photograph of light used as metaphor. Original photography only, in Paris.

DUE Wednesday: Find and bring in an advertisement that has Peirce's iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs. Include a paragraph identifying the three in the image, explaining why each representation is in fact what you say it is.

Tuesday, July 11

Field Trip 2: Surrealism, Beaux Arts & Art Deco

Pigalle, Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, Dali Espace, Brassai’s steps


Week 3: Monday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 19


Anti-stimulus bill editorial cartoon case study

Popeye's Annie | Popeyes ad II | Minneapolis reaction | Rochester reaction | Hardee's and sex | Hardee's and sex II | Zesty Italian guy | "Black" ice | Whitewashing Hollywood | Cleveland Indians | Washington Redskins

Visual Persuasion (advertising)
Apkon, chapters 4-6
Lloyds Bank of London ad: A Fairy Tale | Canesten TV ad | The Think Different (Apple, 1997)

The Cymbalta ad on YouTube

tolerance v. acceptance

CatholicVote | Scarecrow Ad | Funny or Die critique | 30 Rock strikes again | Starbucks on Best In Show | Mazda ad with Mia Hamm | Dissolve | iPhone parody

DUE Monday: Berger code safari -- bring in a print ad that uses either a metonymic, analogical, condensed and displaced symbolic code to persuade. Type up an explanation, print out and submit, with a copy of the image. One ad with all four, or one ad each, or combinations. Just make sure you have an example of each of the four symbolic codes.

DUE Wednesday: Half the class bring in an ad with stereotype; half bring in one showing or using a counter-stereotype, with a paragraph or two explaining.

DUE by midnight Thursday: Take-home midterm

Tuesday, July 18

Field Trip 3: Othering & Stereotyping

Institut du Monde Arabe, Grande Mosque, Jardin des Plants


Week 4: Monday, July 24 and Wednesday, July 26

Finish Visual Persuasion (advertising)

Midterm recaps

Typography, 'Man of Letters'

Ten Infographics on Type | What font are you? (Buzzfeed quiz) | Type sketch on College Humor | Typography Deconstructed | Comic Sans on The Onion Network | Metamorphabet | Why you should care about type (FastCompany) | If typefaces were cats | Designer of Transport typeface on Top Gear | History of Typography (The Atlantic) | Free typefaces at FontSquirrel | The Kerning Game | Typeface for people with dyslexia (and why it matters)

Six Perspectives

Graphic Design | eras of graphic design

  • Balance
  • Unity
  • Contrast
  • Rhythm
  • CVI
  • Z pattern
  • The Big Idea (metaphor)

Due Wednesday: Safari -- Best use of type in our Paris neighborhood, in your opinion (present why in your explanation)

Tuesday, July 25

Field Trip 4: Impressionism and Memory & Light

Musee d'Orsay | La Maison Europeene de la Photographie, 5/7 Rue de Fourcy, 8 euros (special exhibition: Memory & Light)


Week 4: Monday, July 31 and Wednesday, Aug. 2

La Jetée | full length in French | English dub

Migrant Woman Revisited | New York Times photo blog | | camera obscura

Doisneau, Brassai

Moving Images: Television and Film
Apkon, chapters 7 & 8

So who was right? Orwell or Huxley?

DUE Monday: A photo of the mundane, the ugly or hideous, and the poignant/timeless/poetic, plus an explanation

DUE Wednesday: A photo you take of a "broken dream." No Photoshopping, no filters, here in Paris. Something ‘found.’

Here are the instructions for the final projects, as a .pdf download (also emailed out)

5th fieldtrip: Tuesday, Aug. 1 Cite du Cinema, 20 Rue Ampère, 93200 Saint-Denis, near Stade de France (a long ass way away).  
Week 5:Friday, Aug. 4

Class presentations of final projects (and submission)


“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” John Berger, Ways of Seeing (1972)

“It is a paradox of the twentieth century that while visual images have increasingly come to dominate our culture, our colleges and universities traditionally have devoted relatively little attention to visual media.” Sturken and Cartwright, Practices of Looking (2001)

Course Description: Study of visual theory, visual literacy and how visual images are used to persuade. Students study and interpret audience-specific visual culture and communication, and the rhetoric of visual materials.

Course Purpose & Objectives: By the end of this course, my goal is for students to --  

  • Better understand how images and their viewers make and communicate meaning.
  • Know how to study and decipher images for their textual meanings by applying methods of interpretation. (Object of focus: images.)
  • Examine modes of responding to visuality, or the practices of seeing or looking. (Object of focus: viewer/reader/audience.)
  • Explore the roles images play in culture and how those roles change as the images move, circulate, become appropriated and cross cultures.
  • Likewise, explore how cultural influences determine the type of visual messages used and how they are interpreted.
  • Learn a grammar and ethics of seeing and of producing visual messages.

What you will need (required):

  • The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens, Stephen Akron (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013)
  • Access to a digital camera (model, sophistication not factors, and don't buy one just for class; you can borrow one

What you may want (recommended but not required):

  • Visual Communication, Paul Martin Lester (Thomson), fifth edition
  • Ways of Seeing, John Berger (Penguin)
  • The Image, Dan Boorstin (Vintage)
  • Ourspace, Christine Harold (University of Minnesota)
  • Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis (Wiley)
  • Visual Methodologies, Gillian Rose (Sage)
  • Graphic Communications Today, Ryan and Conover (Thomson)
  • On Photography, Susan Sontag (Picador)
  • Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright (Oxford)

Stuff you need to know:

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
Home page:
Blog: Wandering Rocks


  • Attendance: Every absence that is not excused by the program director results in the drop of a letter grade. Three instances of tardness will be treated as one absence.
  • Field trips & fees: Field trips are an integral and required component of Program courses, and students pay their own way.
  • Distractions:
  • This instructor is easily distracted. Ringing cell phones, therefore, will be lobbed out of the classroom window and into the Paris streets. Chatter during lecture will result in "professionalism and participation" point deductions, as will Facebooking, texting or any other unauthorized Internet use during lecture or topic presentations.
  • Preparation: Complete the assignments, do the readings and be ready to tackle the activities of the day. Be ready to discuss and debate ideas and approaches.
  • Academic integrity: Because academic integrity is the foundation of college life, academic dishonesty will result in automatic failure on the assignment in question. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following: cheating, unauthorized collaboration, plagiarism (reproducing ideas, words, or statements without giving proper credit to original sources), fabrication, submitting the same work in multiple courses, and aiding and abetting (collusion). For definitions of these terms, please consult the instructor. If you breach this academic integrity policy, you will fail the course and be referred to your college or school dean for disciplinary action. Writing assignments will be submitted to, a plagiarism detection database.
  • Late submissions: Because the due dates for written assignments are known well in advance, there is no reason why the assignments cannot be completed on time. Moreover, it would be unfair to selectively grant extensions. All late work, therefore, will be penalized. Assignments received one class period late will be penalized one letter grade. No assignments will be accepted more than one class period late.

How you will be graded:

Daily projects, safaris, blog posts 30%
Midterm Project 30%
Final Project 30%
Professionalism and participation 10%

To compute your final grade, add up your point totals, apply the appropriate percentages, then refer to the grading system summarized here:

59 and below

Definitions of the grades can be found in the Berry College Bulletin. “A” students will demonstrate an outstanding mastery of course material and will perform far above that required for credit in the course and far above that usually seen in the course. The “A” grade should be awarded sparingly and should identify student performance that is relatively unusual in the course.

Students with special needs
If you have special needs of any kind, including learning disabilities, please let me know. Come discuss it with me. I want to make sure on the front end that we prevent any problems associated with the course.

Finally, I believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, so let’s have some fun!


  •  “Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing!” --Judy the elf in “The Santa Clause”)
  • We view things not only from different sides, but with different eyes; we have no wish to find them alike.” --Blaise Pascal, Pensee no. 124
  • “The more you see the more you know. The more you know, the more you see.” --Aldous Huxley
  • “Every appearance is also a disappearance.” – Dr. C

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