Analyzing the Dynamics of Race with Information & Visual Literacy


This session will focus on the collaboration between a librarian and professor of psychology for a seminar, “Psychology of Racism.” Goals of the class included introducing images as a parallel means of communication to textual information and expanding the visual vocabulary of the students in order to enhance their discussions of race, racism and representations of each in the media. A framework was created based on Standard Three, Indicator Two of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Benedict Visual Literacy Collection’s definition of visual literacy. First, students considered their own interpretation of an image, then considered the image from the perspective of various racial and ethnic groups, particularly those represented or targeted by the images. The students researched the historical, cultural and societal context of the image, paying special attention to how historical and present day dynamics of racism can influence media representations. Finally, students considered the perspectives of the image creator and any intermediary between creator and viewer who translated or interpreted the image. Students used the framework to explore images from Hurricane Katrina, World War II and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten. Students’ reactions to both the framework and images will be discussed.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Promote use of images in information & visual literacy instruction as a vibrant means of communication in social science disciplines;

  • Share a framework for critiquing and analyzing images;

  • Demonstrate a successful collaboration between classroom faculty and librarian.
  • Presenters:

    Stephanie Davis-Kahl
    Digital & Media Initiatives Librarian
    The Ames Library
    Illinois Wesleyan University

    Kira Hudson Banks
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Psychology
    Illinois Wesleyan University



    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: