Structures as Argument: The Visual Persuasiveness of Museums and Places of Worship

J. Donald Ragsdale


Structures as Argument assesses museums, places of worship, monuments, and cemetery stones as means of visual persuasion. It argues that structures are equally capable of influencing viewers as speeches or advertisements are and that to miss this essential feature of them is to fail in understanding their cultural roles. The book spotlights museums ranging from such cultural icons as the Louvre and the British Museum, to such museums of collective memory as the Anne Frank House, to museums of pure visual persuasion such as the Doge's Palace in Venice. It features places of worship which range from Notre-Dame de Paris, to the Spanish missions of San Antonio, Texas, to the Protestant churches of America and includes a chapter on non-Western structures such as Chinese museums and Buddhist temples. Structures as Argument makes a significant contribution to the theory of persuasion, visual communication, and art history. It utilizes a theory of visual signs developed by Paul Messaris out of the semiotic theory of C. S. Peirce.
In so doing, it demonstrates that artifacts of war, cathedral iconography, positioning of art objects for effect, and the art of gravestone sculpture all may be thought of in terms of means of social more


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