Part 1: Objectives

Putting It All Together

The questions for this week:

  • Who was W.E.B. Du Bois?
  • Why is W. E. B. Du Bois an important figure in visual communication?
  • How did W. E. B. Du Bois use visuals to make important sociological and political points?
  • What lessons can be drawn for today?

Part 1: To-Do List

  • Blog post relating to last week’s coursework on political advertising
  • Texts
  • Work on your virtual museum exhibition on the year 2020

Part 1: Overview

This week is a shortened week, so you are going to explore one of the most interesting and important set of visual material in American history and life: W. E. B. Du Bois’s Exhibit of the American Negro at the 1900 Paris Exposition.

W. E. B. Du Bois (Feb. 23, 1868–Aug. 27, 1963) is one of the fathers of American sociology and a towering figure in American life and letters. An academic, writer, activist, The first African American to receive a PhD at Harvard, he remained an influential figure throughout his lifetime. He helped found the NAACP. He was famous for his many essays and books, like The Souls of Black Folk in which he asks the iconic question: “How does it feel to be a problem?” Close to the end of his life, he renounced his American citizenship and moved permanently to Ghana where he died at 95.

More recently, his sociological and activist work using visuals has become appreciated in the field of visual communication. Like Fredrick Douglass and others in the 19th century, he understood the power of photographs to claim agency, equality, and attention for African Americans. But it is in his innovative use of data visualization that is still seen as powerful and innovative today.

See what you think as you explore the exhibition he helped put together for the Paris exhibition of 1900 (basically a world’s fair) encompassing African American life only 35 years after slavery was abolished!

Part 1: Blog assignment

Your blog post for this week should deal with political advertising.

Part 1: Text & Readings

  1. Ellen Terrell, “Du Bois in Paris – Exposition Universelle, 1990,” Library of Congress, Feb 24, 2015
    • This article talks about how the Exhibition came about, who was involved, and the aftermath. One thing you that adds context to this important international event that is not covered in this article is that at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, known as the “World’s Fair,” African Americans were not allowed to take part in the main exposition. If you are interested, you can read the details in Early Chicago: The 1893 World’s Fair
  2. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, “W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America” Jul 31, 2020 (5:57)
  3. Jackie Mansky, “W.E.B. Du Bois’ Visionary Infographics Come Together for the First Time in Full Color,” Smithsonian Magazine, Nov 15, 2018
  4. Du Bois’s Data Visualization Charts
  5. Mona Chalabi recreates W.E.B. Du Bois’s infographics with modern data, Jan 27, 2020 (11:20)
    • Mona Chalabi, a graphics artist who works for The Guardian, updates some of Du Bois’s charts. What does bringing the work to our time reveal about Du Bois’s work and about African American life?

Part 1: Optional Live Class via Zoom

Part 1: Virtual Museum Assignment

You should be working on your virtual museum assignment.

Part 2: Objectives

Visualizing Health

The questions for this week:

  • Why are visuals particularly effective for health communication?
  • What types of visuals are used?
  • How can communicators become better at using visuals to convey health-related information?
  • What tools are there that can help people design health-related visual material?

Part 2: To-Do List

Part 2: Overview

This week’s material again looks at the huge importance and influence of visuals in health and public health communication.

As we have seen in previous units, visuals have a dominant way to reach the public during the pandemic. But visualizations have always been a core aspect of communicating health-related information to the general public and to specific populations.

This week is a little different. There isn’t that much to read, partly so that you have more time to work on your virtual museum exhibition on 2020, and partly so that you can use a health visualization tool for yourself if you want have some fun creating some visualizations.

Part 2: Blog assignment

This week’s blog post should be related in some way to last week’s study of W. E. B. Du Bois’s exhibition and work for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Part 2: Texts & Websites

  1. Ohio Department of Health, “Flatten the Curve” PSA
    • Created by Real Art Design Group in Dayton, Ohio, this public service announcement went viral and was praised around the world as being one of the clearest and most effective messages early in the pandemic. As you watch it, look for all the principles we’ve studied that explain why it works so well.
  2. Vizhealth Adventures Comic Book
    • Read this comic book that was created to explain how effective health communication visuals can make a difference. This comic also introduces the material and tools on the website that anyone can use and adapt for their own material.
  3. About the Visualizing Health Website
    • Read about the Visualizing Health site developed by the University of Michigan Center for Health Communication Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Explore the tools on the site. If you want to experiment, try to create some visuals using the tools.

Part 2: Optional Live Class via Zoom