*This is the second in a series of brief posts in which I undertake to perform a rhetorical analysis of the university advertisements that appeared in the 2010 Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) conference program. I will undertake to comment upon all of the university ads in the program, in the order that they appeared in the program. Because rhetoric programs are advertising themselves in the program of the field’s premier conference, the ads seem especially ripe for analysis.*
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s half-page ad appears on page 11 of the RSA conference program. This ad has some nice touches, particularly the welcome the department’s new faculty. The use of logos is nice, and the symmetry of the ad allows the eye to travel easily between points of emphasis in the ad space. Teh fonts are bold without being aggressive, and the use of bold and plain fonts clearly differentiates the importance of various bits of data for readers.
The only significant complaint I have about this ad is that it doesn’t make clear the role of the faculty it lists. Michael Bernard-Donals is, I think, in the English department, which I guess is how he is affiliated with the Communication Arts Department, which appears to have placed the ad. Why not just list English faculty as such, rather than the confusing “Affiliated”? This seems a weird sort of departmental colonialism to me, like the Comm Arts folks didn’t want to acknowledge the department from which their affiliates hail.
Graphically, the ad does significantly better than the UT Austin ad, though it is a bit text-heavy. Another problem is that it appears on page 11, which means that it’s going to be breezed over once people get past the session of the conference next to which the ad appears. Far fewer eyes are going to see it than if it were at the front or back of the program. I bet this made the ad cheaper, but also far less noticeable. I’d say that if you’re going to bother running an ad, go for broke. Put it where the people will see it. I would think that the page adjacent to the map of conference rooms would be primo real estate for ads, but RSA didn’t sell that space, which I think would attract a lot of eyes.
One irony of these ads is that no one seems willing to get down to brass tacks and make any claims, for example, about their placement of graduates in real-life jobs.