“The Image is (Not) the Event: Negotiating the Pedagogy of Controversial Images.” Visual Communication Quarterly, 2014.

Sharrona Pearl and Alexandra Sastre

In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases of professors using controversial images and displays in their classrooms. In this essay, we ask not why but how professors go about presenting potentially controversial images in the context of their course. To what extent do they frame these images for their students? What are their selection criteria? Are students required to view the images? Are they even presented with a choice? Through these larger framing questions, we then analyze the why outside the constraints of debates around free choice and gratuitousness, seeking to understand the stakes for the use of these images as essential components of learning, debate, provocation, and knowledge acquisition in the university context.

Published in Volume 21, Issue 4, pages 198-209