Visual Persuasion in the Law Seminar
Since technology changes so rapidly, it is imperative that students of visual persuasion cultivate critical thinking as well as skills in the use of particular software applications. Teaching visual literacy requires exposing students to a broad range of readings, including rhetoric, the psychology of perception, graphic design, narrative theory, advertising, film theory, media studies, among other fields. But visual persuasion training is not a passive process. We learn a great deal simply by doing. For example, the nonlinear editing techniques that students learn when they sit in front of a computer screen invite new forms of thinking and creativity. By directly experiencing the visual production process students come to appreciate the power of choosing to juxtapose one image before or after another, or deploying a particular audio backdrop, or inserting a vocal ‘caption’ that explains or contextualizes what is being seen on the screen.
Readings combined with visual exercises ensure that visual legal advocacy is both informed and well crafted. Learning visual persuasion is both experiential and collaborative. Legal advocates need to understand how others, from diverse backgrounds, respond to their work. That is why classes should also function as focus groups, helping students to appreciate that visual communication is a two-way street, with traffic passing back and forth between advocates and their audience.