Using Narrative Theory to Understand the Power of News Photographs

Authored by: Trischa Goodnow

Handbook of Visual Communication

Print publication date:  November  2004
Online publication date:  December  2004

Print ISBN: 9780805841787
eBook ISBN: 9781410611581
Adobe ISBN: 9781135636531


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How do we come to know the things that we know? Walter Fisher (1984) suggested that we learn things through the stories that we tell. If we think back to grade school and our first formal learning experiences, they were steeped in stories. From the “See Spot” books to the word problems in mathematics, narratives or stories are primary teaching tools. However, it is not just the fundamentals of education we learn through stories, we also learn the goals and values that guide a particular culture and how to live in that society. Phillipsen called these cultural myths and said that they are “a great symbolic narrative which holds together the imagination of a people and provides bases of harmonious thought and action” (1987, p. 251).

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