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Rhetoric and Narrative

February 24, 2016
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As you start to finalize your designs, think about their visual and spoken presentation. How are the design and the user experience structured for the best understanding? These questions concern rhetoric and narrative and are particularly relevant.

We can begin to define rhetoric as persuasive speech, and by extension, the organization of discourse. Visual rhetoric is defined as the study of how visual images communicate; the social construction of the visual. It is comprised of all the decisions you make about form–space, size, color, emphasis, interaction, sequence, etc.–and how you develop a hierarchy that enables us to successfully understand and experience the design.

Narrative derives from the Latin narrare–’to relate,’ and the Greek gno, ‘to know.’ We could say that narrative is the form of the story (not the content of the story) and that it relates all of its parts to each other.


Here is a text analysis and visualization
of the rhetorical structure of Martin Luther King, Jr’s I have a Dream speech.

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