Image literacy and Cracker Barrel

In our reading of OUMEM today I was fascinated with the concept of image literacy- the “reading” we do when we interpret images. Early in our reading the author stated “The visual adds to, complements, and sometimes changes the verbal text; it rarely literally reproduces it. Images placed before a text create certain kinds of expectation and anticipation, while those placed at the end can be particularly important in determining what the reader is to take away from the reading experience.” (p. 158) Sometimes I feel like we live in an inverse of this whole visual debate. While people went back and forth about the morality of including images with text, text was still seen as the primary means of communication. I don’t know that we still operate like that. Maybe in the classroom, but in most of my experience with life I’ve seen imagery start to displace text as the primary means of communication. Here’s one example. A few years ago I worked as a waiter at Cracker Barrel (a sit-down country cooking-style restaurant). Our menus were almost entirely text, big, folding pieces of brown paper with tiny writing and about a million combinations of the same few ingredients. People coming to the restaurant for the first time were usually overwhelmed with the menu because they couldn’t just point to a picture and say “I want that.” They usually had a ton of questions as they tried to visualize what the meals would be like. This makes sense to me because as I drive down the interstate, do my grocery shopping, watch TV, check my various social media sites, etc. I feel like I absorb more imagery than text. I have to consciously choose to read books, write letters, and read my food labels if I want to experience text as a primary way to take in information. I feel like the question of whether to include images has become a question of whether to include text instead.

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