Picturing Bonaventure

In his discussion of ideology in commercials, Aaron Bady notes that the trick of good video editing and production is to “hide the ideology in the gaps.” We are surrounded by ideology, particularly in visual culture, but we don’t notice it all the time. If ideology is too overt, it feels like propaganda, and this tends to turn us off: “If you know you are being made to feel, you will resist; ideology is transmitted when you feel more than you know.”

If we look for ideology in the world and culture around us, we accomplish two things: we become more aware of the ideologies that shape and situate our lives and experience, and we become better prepared to be producers of thoughtful and effective culture ourselves. This activity asks you to observe how ideology works at Bonaventure.

Picturing Bonaventure

For this activity, take three pictures around campus that you can post to your class site. As you take these pictures, you should keep the following prompts and questions in mind:

  • What ideas, beliefs, values, and attitudes characterize Bonaventure? Think about different aspects of our identity, whether positive or negative. How do these things manifest themselves physically on campus? In other words, what can you take a picture of that captures some aspect of our identity?
  • What aspects of our campus mark Bonaventure as different from other academic institutions or as a different space from the surrounding area?
  • What aspects of our campus are marked by signs of economic investment? What aspects of our campus show a lack of economic investment?
  • Try to address a range of spaces on campus: indoors and outdoors, academic buildings, dorms, buildings with amenities for students, etc.

Analyzing Ideology

After you have your three pictures, create a new post or page on your class site and embed the images. After each image, write 100-150 words that respond to the following prompts:

  • How does this image embody a sense of ideology? What does it communicate about our campus and our school’s identity?
  • How can this image be interpreted or read in different ways? How might different people see it differently?