Most of the important work which has appeared in the past two decades in the curriculum field has been about the culture of the text. A rich literature has evolved around this, the traditional object of instructional activity. However, even the best of this work has largely focused on the textbook after it has been produced, adopted and entered the classroom. In this work, the social studies textbook in particular has held a special symbolic place. More often than not, it has been looked upon as a cultural commodity maintaining various discourses of power, ideology and social reproduction. An addition to the literature, this book does not look at the text-content of the printed matter. It focuses on the actual making of a textbook and how the design process which constructs the visible form of the book not only shapes textual content, but also suggests new paradigms of learning and instruction appropriate to the emerging digital culture of visual communication. The Visual Turn focuses on the most innovative social studies textbook programme of the last decade - the Houghton Mifflin K-8 series - and positions the information design of these books as a path-breaking marker dealing with pedagogical issues beyond the textbook. LaSpina questions whether the emerging digital multimedia culture of the Internet is transforming the textbook or forever displacing it. He discusses how this new medium of transmission has entered the classroom and is radically changing the instructional balance. The textbook is now caught up in a dialogue with the electronic presence of the computer interface. LaSpina then explains how this dialogue is reshaping the textual boundaries of the book, and with it the traditional modes of cognition and learning that are bound more to language than visual form. With the computer, traditional textbook content enters an expanded electronic field in which text content is but one component in a multi-dimensional information space. This book, then, is an exploration along the borders of this new learning space. Twelve full and half-page charts, diagrams and tables, and 45 black-and-white full and half-page illustrations and photographs in this volume reconstruct the making of a textbook and demonstrate how the graphic design of visual information structures and informs textual content.
James Andrew LaSpina
Routledge Member of the Taylor and Francis Group
Country of Publication:
01 April 1998
Professional and scholarly
Contents: Introduction: Turning a Textbook Controversy on Its Head. Social Studies for the 21st Century. When Images Meet Words. Making the Beautiful Book. A Beautiful Book or Considerate Text. A Different Model of Reading. History as Our Best Guess. A Window in the Text. Face-to-Face or Interface: Social Studies in Cyberspace.