Paul Messaris on visual communication theory and research in latest Journal of Communication

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Professor Paul Messaris appears in the current issue of Journal of Communication (Volume 53, Number 3; September, 2003) with a review essay on two new books in the field of visual studies: Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture by Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright (Oxford, 2001) and Handbook of Visual Analysis edited by Theo Van Leeuwen and Carey Jewitt (Sage, 2001). According to Messaris, these two books, taken together, make positive contributions to what he sees as the two main challenges confronting the field of visual scholarship in its effort to establish itself as a distinct subarea of communication scholarship.

Explains Messaris: "First, on a theoretical level, visually oriented scholars need to develop a sharper understanding of the distinctions among major modes of communication (image, word, music, body display, etc.) and a clearer appreciation of the specific role that each plays in social processes. Second, on the research front, there is a need for more sophisticated ways of exploring visual meanings and investigating viewer's responses to images."