Critical Visuality: On the Development of Critical Visual Literacy for Learners’ Empowerment

By Anahit Falihi and Linda Wason-Ellam.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study explores the role of visuality in education associated with developing students’ critical and creative thinking, sense of care, responsibility, and academic advancement through critical visual production. Visuality, or the capacity to see and be seen, does not necessarily have a critical dimension. Most of the time people do not question the validity of the information offered to them through text and images by media. Critical visuality, however, has to do with purposeful and directed viewing. It means having the ability to see and analyze visual experiences purposefully by deconstructing elements of images and reconstructing them through critical viewing and interpreting messages in a broad social, environmental, and cultural context. Critical visuality therefore is essential to the process of critical visual viewing.
Our ability to interpret any visual experience is cumulative depending on previous similar and different experiences and specific understanding of those experiences. It is also determined by the effects of various circumstances and the social and cultural meanings of elements. Each element in a received visual experience needs to be followed with an interpretation of the whole concept, as well as the relationship of the elements to each other in a broader context.
This understanding and interpretation of the elements also has to be viewed with regard to the specific historical, sociological, cultural, political and environmental aspects of their being, in the process of making sense of the whole experience. The nature and level of received information, knowledge and experience that support the interpretation of a visual experience all play a role in the process of critical visual literacy. Writing as the other part of literacy, is a process of construction. It includes generating visuals in the form of texts and images, which implies exercising the power of the imagination and creativity.

Keywords: Critical Visuality, Critical Visual Literacy, Critical Viewing, Critical Composing, Visual Production

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp.409-418. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.208MB).

Anahit Falihi

Researcher, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Anahit is a visual artist and researcher working in a variety of areas including fine arts, textiles arts, mixed-media arts and digital media arts. Her teaching and research focus are visual communication art, visual literacy, the role of visual studies in society, art education, art history, media art and design, theory and philosophy of visual education, instructional design, theatre and costume design, installation sculpture, experimental fiber art and design, and mix-media production. She has worked with the art departments of several feature films and television series as program coordinator and art director. Anahit who traveled and lived in a variety of countries in Europe and Asia, believes that her works are influenced by variety of cultures. Anahit’s work has been shown in local, national and international exhibitions. She holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Marmara University in Turkey. Currently, She is engaged in teaching and research on critical visuality through her graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

Dr. Linda Wason-Ellam

Professor, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Dr. Linda Wason-Ellam is a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan teaching courses in Reading, Literacy, Children’s Literature, and Qualitative Research. She has extensive experience as a researcher, primary teacher and consultant in inner-city and intercultural classrooms in the United States, England, Qatar, and Canada. She is the author of many publications that highlight the social- cultural worlds of children and families on their pathways to reading and viewing multiple literacies which are multimodal and hybrid.


There are currently no reviews of this product.

Write a Review