Aongus Mui

Gendered Environments – Diane Hope

Defining Visual Rhetoric – Diane Hope
Progym: Confirmation

In the essay written by Diane Hope, she demonstrates the use of rhetorical advertisement strategies which used the body of women to make the ad more appealing. Hope states “Especially strategic to the rhetoric of gendered environments is advertisement’s cultural ubiquity.” She goes in depth on how society pictures women. An example would be how advertisements involving women are associated with brighter colors to represent a more relaxed and laid back vibe. According to Hope, “Advertisements produced over the last half of the 20th century promoting products to increase a women’s femininity offer remarkably similar images of nature as background to erotic fantasies.” The main objective of the advertisements appears to be depicting women as easygoing and always in the light, as shown by the lighter colors present in many advertisements. Hope’s explanation of how women are portrayed in advertisements is very fitting and does most definitely true.

Paula I Arraiza

Portrayal of Women and Men in Advertisement

Progym: Comparison

In order to get her point across, Hope spends a lot of time comparing advertisements that focused on women to those that focus on men. The characteristics used in each type of advertisement are similar to gender norms society expects each gender to follow, with women being more sensual and passive and men being more adventurous and dominant. She uses examples of various advertisements, from the Buffalo Pan American’s depiction of Niagara Falls as a woman to Marbolo advertisements that feature cowboys.  She compares the relationship both types of ads have to nature, stating that women tend to be a part of nature in advertisements, while men are seen as individuals who enjoy nature. Hope states that

“Advertisements that portray an unspoiled natural world as feminized picture a fertile passive earth ready for erotic seduction, available for pleasure, and infinite in bounty. In contrast, masculinized environments present the earth as a vast wilderness created for conquest, adventure and challenge.” (162)

She explains different ways ads achieve this, talking about how the colors used in each type represent each gender, with those representing women showcasing brighter colors and those that depict men using darker tones. All of this works together to create the image each type wants to showcase in regard to each gender;

“Woman and nature are sites for erotic play or nurture of men and children. Color palettes reflect the shades of the tropics, emphasizing multihued greens of plants and water, golds, yellows and whites of diluted sunshine, and muted pastels with small spots of bright reds, blues and purples. Image focus is often soft.” (160)

“The features of these advertisements emphasize a mythic world where men play at heroics and a vast environmental wilderness promises control and adventure. Nature is the object of conquest or background for demonstrations of power. Iconic representations feature rocks, hard edges, deserts, mountain ranges, canyons, snowy peaks, bright sunshine and wide skies. Colors are typically high contrast and dramatic and frequently reflect the reds, browns, blues and whites of the west “ (161-162)

The main focus of these advertisements seems to be depicting women as more abstract and docile, while men are more concrete and active. This is shown through various details in the advertisements, such as the colors and details used in each one. Similar to the role women are expected to play of being more passive and submissive toward men, while men are expected to be tough and dominant. Through her comparison and explanation of the depiction of men and women in ads, what she seems to be getting at, at least in my opinion, is the fact that men and women are perceived differently by society and thus advertisements play into these perceptions in order to appeal to a certain type of public.





Samuel E Evans

“Gendered Environments: Gender and the Natural World in the Rhetoric of Advertising” by Hope

Progym: Confirmation

Advertising nearly always utilizes the attributes and mentality of the viewer, using common cultural queues to portray their product in a certain light. Diane Hope writes about this in her essay on “Gendered Environments,” in which she discusses the use of gendered imagery within natural environments to sell commercial goods. This is a common and clear trope, as seen in the Jeep advertisement above. Her description of this helps show how abundant it is in the ads we see day to day, in everything from the color palettes to the use of certain actors, and of course natural landscapes.

She writes that advertising capitalizes on our affinity towards our gender identity, using this to “cloak the impact of consumption on the environment” and portray their product as a part of that environment, or embodying its nature or gendered attributes in some way (156). She uses examples such as a 1915 ad portraying the Niagara Falls as a young and slender woman, in which

“depicted as a voluptuous woman, the waterfall is a sign of natures unending fertility,” (157).

The falls, ever-flowing, are like the youth and luxuriance of this woman, or so the ad implies. Advertisements such as these, she says, are not only capitalizing on our identities but also reinforcing old perspectives on gender, as well as destructive consumerist views of the environment. In another example, Hope discusses a Marlboro ad showing “the attractiveness of the mystical west for ‘real’ men,” implying a very rigid and traditional view of the role of men (160). In this way, gendered environments are a powerful rhetorical strategy for advertising, though also a potentially damaging one.

Outside of the essay, we can see examples of this imagery in advertisements all around us. Returning to my Jeep example, we see dark, rustic imagery, both in the natural background and the chosen color for the Jeep itself and the clothes of the man who sits atop it. The man is fit, bearded, and wearing blue jeans and a leather jacket. The image oozes outdoorsman ethos, and this is what Jeep is trying to sell, as they try to use traditionally masculine and environmental visual rhetoric in this ad. They are trying to sell Jeeps, in a not-so-concealed manner, using the tactics that Hope describes in a very overt way. This is why Hope’s argument is so accurate, it can be seen everywhere and is often abundantly clear when you notice it. It is also something worth being concerned about, as it is potentially harmful in multiple ways. First, it can be damaging to our natural spaces as the environments used to sell these products are destroyed in said good’s production and use. Second, these ads enforce old gender norms and exploit consumers’ identities for financial gain. This makes Hope’s observations particularly pertinent and useful.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

The Paradox of Pampering

Wallace is a very interesting writer when it comes to his structure by giving a good timeline of events when he can and can sound super relatable to the reader if they have ever been in the cruise position. DFW has no problem keeping the attention of the reader by his casual and cohesive style of writing. It does not have 100% of the details, rather just the right amount of what he needs, and nothing sounds super filler. I envy his ability to play the image in my head without trying, for instance—

“When you turn back around your towel’s often gone and your deck chair has been refolded to its uniform 45-degree at-rest angle, and you have to readjust your chair all over again, and you have to readjust your chair all over again and go to the cart to get a fresh fluffy towel, of which there is admittedly not a short supply…”

This is the right amount of descriptive information, without giving the reader too much stimulus and things to think about. There are plenty of other examples since it happens seamlessly all over the rest of the article. His experience goes through the rest of the cruise ship, like the mystery of when and how your room gets cleaned so fast when you leave for a short period of time, or even exploring the idea of a “Paradox of Pampering”, and the feeling of being pampered on a cruise ship. I guess the line where this paradox was brought up can be interpreted in many different ways, but I like to see it as a passenger that is self-aware of the fact that they can do things themselves, while at the same time they don’t have a choice with whether or not they want the help. It is perfect how DFW wrote it—

“The Passenger’s Always Right versus Never Let a Passenger Carry His Own Bag”

here is this weird relationship where he would rather carry his own stuff and be self-sufficient but would run the risk of getting staff in trouble, which is a prime example of the paradox of pampering.

The idea of this paradox and the self-aware real-life relationship between the passengers and the crew members are not really discussed until the end where Wallace made his transition in tone for the reader. The also self-aware idea of being American and having this greedy capitalist idea in the background of the passengers’ mind while they have their “escape” from reality and purpose.


“But, of course, part of the overall despair of this Luxury Cruise is that whatever I do I cannot escape my own essential and newly unpleasant Americanness. Whether up here or down there, I am an American tourist and am thus ex officio large, fleshy, red, loud, coarse, condescending, self-absorbed, spoiled, appearance-conscious, greedy, ashamed, and despairing…I’m newly and unpleasantly conscious of being an American, the same way I’m always suddenly conscious of being white every time I’m around a lot of non-white people.”


This is a prime example of Wallace’s style of writing and what makes it so great, there’s this underlying theme in the background brewing in the back of his head while he’s having a good time, and once he comes back to reality, he brings in the idea of the paradox of pampering (or rather the paradox of luxury). This luxury is at the benefit of the passengers’ experience, while there is a problem to the whole system under the surface. And while this isn’t discussed until the end as much, I enjoyed that it was hinted at through the whole work.

Samuel James Conroy

Confirmation Wallace

Confirmation Progymnasmata

            David Foster Wallace presents a very interesting point throughout his “Supposedly Fun Thing” essay. His style of writing throughout the piece is quite brilliant as he does not try to sound like the typical fancy English writer, instead, he makes it a very direct, un-literary piece. The point is to make the reader understand just how much David Foster Wallace dislikes this cruise ship. His repeated use of the word “despair” and listed out displeasures of the ship give the reader a good idea how Wallace feel about cruise ships and travel as a whole.

Wallace presents his overall feeling of the Nadir (name that he gave to the cruise ship) through the quote, “There’s something about a mass-market Luxury Cruise that’s unbearably sad” (Wallace). He shows his unhappiness through listing all of the things that end up feeling “mandatory” upon the ship. The feeling the Wallace provides is that you are being forced to have fun on cruise ships regardless of if you want to or not, simply because that is what you do on cruise ships, “have fun.” Wallace’s essay is perfectly logical as I experienced the same issues when I was a kid. As I stated in my last writing, I have never been on a cruise ship, but being stuck in the middle of the ocean on a boat where the only thing to do is participate in the “activities” does not seem awfully intriguing. I can personally relate to this when I was young. I never looked forward to going on vacation when I was little because of this exact reason, I always felt out of place and like I was being forced to have fun. If I did not enjoy one of the activities that we did, my parents would get mad at me since they were paying for us to have fun. This concept never made since to me and would make me anxious about going on vacation. Wallace was able to perfectly capture my feelings as a kid on vacation.

Ehren Joseph Layne

Urry through Frow – Confirmation/Thesis

Confirmation / Thesis 


Frow’s expository, “Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia”, presents an understanding of the tourist v. traveller dilemma and uses semiotics to interpret the network of concepts relating to tourism, nostalgia, and heritage(concepts such as authenticity, the tourist gaze, and so on). Frow also expands upon  paradoxes that Culler and Urry explain in their respective pieces on tourism – those paradoxes being: the continuous refabrication of the authentic coupled with the continuous validation of the refabrication of the authentic as authentic, and the inability to upkeep authentic cultural traditions because the upkeep of said traditions changes then from being “authentic” and instead makes them “the revitalization of the authentic”.  I find myself being more and more persuaded by the arguments Urry makes in respect to tourism, and was pleased to see Frow reference him almost ubiquitously(I had no care for references to Culler). Frow leans on Urry’s conceptualization of the authentic  when explaining the paradox of authenticity: Frow writes – 


 “The paradox, the dilemma of authenticity, is that to be experienced as authentic it must be marked as authentic, but when it is marked as authentic it is mediated, a sign of itself and hence not authentic in the sense of un- spoiled. “ 


Frow’s usage of Urry is not limited to this definition: Frow does a copy and paste of an excerpt from Urry where he is fantasizing about the prospect of  “real travel” but doing so in the context of the paradox. Urry wishes to travel authentically, but understands his inability to do so by nature of the dilemma of authenticity: Urry cannot wish for authentic travel because travel itself is the catalyst for the spoiling of the authentic, and therefore, the inability to ever experience the authentic. Urry goes as far as to saying that: 


“ I am the loser – and more heavily than one might suppose; for today, as I go groaning among the shadows, I miss, inevitably, the spectacle that is now taking shape. My eyes, or perhaps my degree of humanity, do not equip me to witness that spectacle; and in the centuries to come, when another traveler revisits this same place, he too may groan aloud at the disappearance of much that I should have set down, but cannot. “


I would like to emphasize this, for it helps in the contextualization of my thesis from my last post. My redefinition of authenticity is because I wish to dismantle the narrative that we are no longer able to perceive spectacle(the authentic). I hope to, with some rudimentary knowledge of semiotics, relieve tourism of its many incapabilities (inability to perceive the authentic, inability to deal with the authentic, and inability to think freely without compartmentalizing our knowledge of the authentic) and open up the possibility of discourse that upholds tourism rather than stigmatizing it.

Moonjung Jun

Progym: Confirmation
In the article “The Semiotics of Tourism”, Culler makes an interesting observation in connecting tourism with semiotics. Furthermore, by diagnosing that tourism is part of a culture he develops his argument about how people are drawn to the symbols and imagery. He introduces semiotics which is the study of signs and the production of meaning in the images or symbols. There are a variety of examples he gives, which includes when french singing an English song but with a French accent seem more charming than if they were just singing in French. This illustration shows that there is a resemblance to symbols of accent that correspond to certain cultures. Developing his point on tourism, he says, there is a desire for people to distinguish tourists from travelers in tourism. This is an integral part of how people through the ages have become more familiar with touristy spots rather than going on a journey. He refers to a quote, “Going by railroad I do not consider as traveling at all; it is merely being ‘sent’ to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel.” The profound meaning is that in the modern sense of tourism has shifted. Some wished that there was authenticity in the way people traveled to different places and to reclaim what it meant to travel without trains or airplanes. All of this Culler says is a “powerful semiotic operator within tourism” that the selling point of commercial tourism is the idea of bringing authentic travel. In a semiotic sense, tourists want to bring about the feeling of authenticity in their surroundings, to find meaning, and allocate different signs. These signs include postcards to souvenirs. The idiom that captivates Culler’s argument is the “tourist attractions” and the creation of these things as commercial companies are figuring out ways to bring about the meaning in different historical labels.

Phillip Wade Wilson

Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia – John Frow

Frow claims there are three main ways in which tourism is explained and can be understood as, the first pits the tourist against the traveler, the second establishes a positive narrative for the traveler in a postindustrial world, and the third compares authentic forms of tourism to those that are not and seeks to establish what is and is not authentic. In a previous reading by Culler, we noted that the way in which things are gives rise to consequences that shape how others view a specific thing. For instance, a fur coat is not simply a garment to keep one warm but rather a status symbol of fashion, wealth, and power that happens to additionally be a garment to keep one warm. In this reading by Frow, that same argument is extended and includes three main pieces being:

“inseparability of the object from its semiotic status”
“sheer impossibility of constructing otherness”
To construct a “good tourist object” one must “construct it as a plausible simulation of itself”

This can be seen everywhere in the travel industry as it is commonplace for travel advertisements to use an exclusivity ploy of “the real…” in order to draw in more people. Since tourists are looked down upon in the travel industry and travelers are pedestaled, many tourist information hubs now shift their focus from showing what “touristy” locations are available in a certain city, country, or area they emphasize living like a local. Nearly all travel sites encourage their users to get to know the place they are going “like a native” (or something of the like) because tourists are seen as a societal annoyance, but world travelers are seen with this aristocratic gloss. Frow writes about this paradoxical idea between traveler and tourist, and the outcomes this has on other areas of travel.

The portrayed authentic or real…. can be dreadful because it extends a false sense of what a place actually is without the person making up their own mind on what something is or is not. With so many external forces giving people preexisting notions on practically everything, from religion to government, when it comes time to make one’s mind up on something as simple as how a place one is visiting is conceived in one head thoughts blend together and a convoluted, and oftentimes incorrect, ideas. For example, when I was abroad in Spain, we had a native Spaniard give us a tour she said she would take us to all the local spots, but where we ended up was with a bunch of other tourists in the same spaces they were occupying. A similar occurrence happened in Belize; we were offered a local’s guide to one of the coastal cities, but it turned out to be just another tourist hotspot as all the other tours were on the same path. These ‘local guides’ promoted the already established ideas of the places they lived to newcomers with, most likely, no intention of upholding commonly held beliefs nonetheless they continued to exacerbate them. It seemed in these cases, where tourism was a heavy component of the economy, the mark of authenticity was a key component to continuing their touristic cycle and vastly beneficial to the local populations while being slightly misleading to the tourists themselves.

Catherine Dodd Corona

The Semiotics of Tourism

The Semiotics of Tourism

Progymnasmata: Confirmation

Culler does a fantastic job of outlining how symbols mean more than their function. In other words how objects have “signifiers” being cues to what that object symbolizes or the judgments unconscious or conscious one gives a person, place or object. One example he uses are “blue jeans”. When a person puts on blue jeans they may not be thinking of the symbol it gives off or the signifiers it has but it certainly does give off a meaning. Blue jeans indicate a sense of casualness or western style. They could also have a different meaning depending on the culture and situation they are in. Blue jeans pose a different symbol when they are worn at a rodeo compared to a fancy dinner or when they are worn in LA compared to Kuwait City. While this is already an interesting observation it touches on a larger concept being that everything humans produce is an imaginary concept. Even though those imaginary concepts have power and can make differences in society, they are still made up or are being described by our limited language. (If you are confused by everything being an imaginary concept Yuval does an incredible job of describing this concept in his book Sapiens) There is no way to escape this concept along with the semiotics Culler explains. One is always going to perceive different objects as cultural signs, even if the judgment they give does not match the intended expression. More importantly these objects, their intended symbol, or their misinterpreted symbol even if it is a tiny aspect of an environment gives authenticity to that environment. Signifiers even though they are imaginary and described by specific cultures make up certain cultures and environments. This observation is important because it allows reflection on how one or a place represents itself or at least tries to represent itself. Which is especially important in the tourism industry.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Culler-The Semiotics of Tourism

Jonathan Culler’s view of tourism gives a lot of interesting points about the good and horrible effects of tourism. I envy that he can switch midway through his sentence and start to pick apart the little details about tourism that I bet you would never think about. Standing out like an elephant in the room is Culler’s statement saying that tourists are foolish for what they really want but can never get a “true experience” without paying or searching for tourist attractions. Culler writes that Boorstin makes a good point on what is behind the artificiality of tourism,

“‘Tourist “attractions” offer an elaborately contrived indirect experience, an artificial product to be consumed in the very places where the real thing is free as air’ “

Culler then writes responding to the quote saying that a tourist is fooling for paying for an experience that they could get for free on their own terms. As Culler goes on, he continues to try and “beat some sense in the reader” by elaborating on the same point but going deeper than before.

Those tourists cannot go without looking for something that is like what they are looking for and looks out less for what the place is. And this is what makes this part of the course super interesting, because there is a line developing between the authentic and the inauthentic tourist attractions, and that usually, the tourists go for the non-authentic. To me looking back at trips I’ve taken with family, the things that are inauthentic usually feel too convenient and in your face to actually feel authentic.

From personal experience, the inauthentic stems from wanting to take advantage of ignorant tourists that think something is authentic.

For instance, if you’re traveling on a cruise from Florida to the Virgins Islands or whatever islands you’re stopping at, when you stop on the island there is a flood of tourists coming off the boat, while simultaneously a flood of the “inauthentic” just trying to sell you stuff. A clear summer day in an ordinary market can turn into something different when the people there try to diverge away from what is actually authentic, where the fake authentic is not free.

This can also be seen in American tourist sites across the country. One example that I like to think of all the time is the difference between the DC tourist and the average DC resident. From being a resident for a little bit of time, I can see the attractions of the monuments, although I feel that there are so many better things than just the monuments for one day. When I took any trip to DC in the past whether it be with school or whatnot, the focus was always on the monument and the people at the monuments trying to sell you things. One moment you are admiring all the buildings, the next you’re being greeted to by something off a table at an intersection on the mall. The mall is fun but doesn’t feel like a genuine part of DC. While that is controversial to say, the focus of expectations and American consumerism revolves around the mall and the monuments, and never once did I go into a more interesting part of DC on a trip in school or with another group before college. However, I can’t take away the influence the monuments, or even the empire state building has as a “marker” on the culture of the site.

While many of these examples really are not inherently the fault of the tourist, but as Culler says, that people look for things that are more like the culture than what is actually the culture. The excitement and delight that comes with tourists can be understood, but when it comes to other cultures and tourism, capitalism and semiotic mechanisms can get in the way of the general framework of how a country or place can characterize itself.