Seeing and listening: A visual and social analysis of optometric record-keeping practices

Lara Varpio*, Marlee M. Spafford, Catherine F. Schryer, Lorelei Lingard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article investigates the contribution visual rhetoric and rhetorical genre studies (RGS) can make to health care education and communication genres. Through a visual rhetorical analysis of a patient record used in an optometry teaching clinic, this article illustrates that a genre's visual representations provide significant insights into the social action of that genre. These insights are deepened by an insider analysis of the patient record that highlights how content analyses of visual designs need to be elaborated by contextual considerations. A combined visual rhetoric and RGS analysis shows that clinical novices learn to interpret the record's visual cues to safely traverse the complex requirements of this apprenticeship genre. The article demonstrates that visual rhetoric research can meaningfully contribute to the understanding of genres by presenting an enriched contextual analysis achieved by consulting with context insiders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-375
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Business and Technical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Health care education
  • Patient records
  • Rhetorical genre studies
  • Visual rhetoric


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