Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Fox, Gary L. (Professor of art)

Degree Name

M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Design--Curricula; Semiotics


In response to the lack of any theoretical basis for instruction in the traditional university level visual design course, this study proposes an alternative approach to beginning visual design education. The proposed curriculum is derived from semiotic theories and models and is intended to provide a means for understanding communication processes and ultimately the skills of visual literacy. The concept of visual literacy is defined and discussed in regard to its important role in visual communication, and semiotic theories and terms are explained. The proposed curriculum is based upon the semiotic sign process and the three relations determined by this process: syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics. Five student projects which were derived from these semiotic theories are discussed and evaluated, and examples of the projects are demonstrated. Finally, a class comparison of instructional methods is presented which suggests that semiotic theories used as a basis for course structure can help students become visually literate.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


vii, 96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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