- Lee E. Brasseur
Lee Ellen Brasseur (born 1949) is an American
ProfessorDepartment of English at the Illinois State University, and expert in the field of visualization, known from her 2003 book "Visualizing Technical Information: A Cultural Critique".
Lee Brasseur has received a B.A. from
Western Michigan University, an M.A. at Eastern Michigan University, and an D.A. from the University of Michiganin Ann Arbor.
Brasseur has been working at the Department of English at the
Illinois State Universitysince 1990. Until 2005 she has been teaching courses in visual rhetoric and technical writing. In 1998-99 she was Director of the Technical Writing Program at the Illinois State University. Since 1999 she is Associate Chair, Department of English, Illinois State University. She has been working as consultant for several publishing firms. And since 1999 she is Editorial Reviewer for the journal "Technical Communication Quarterly".
Brasseur served as the 2002 co-chair of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing Conference and has served as a member of the executive board of the NCTE Committee on Technical Communication, and coordinator of the NCTE Awards in Technical Communication.
She has received a Nomination for University Research Initiative Award by the College of Arts and Sciences,
Illinois State Universityin 1994, and an College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research Award in the Humanities in 2004, from the Illinois State University.
Brasseur conducts research in the design of graphs and charts, and her critical scholarship examines the cultural implications of visual information, including issues of gender. Her research interests are in the field of Technical Communication in the Fetal Ultrasound Exam, Cultural critiques of technical visual information, Graphing and charting processes, and Workplace Ethnographies of visual design. [ [http://www.english.ilstu.edu/people/profile.aspx?ulid=lbrasseu Lee Brasseur profile] at the Dept. of English, Illinois State University. Retrieved 20 July 2008.]
Here current research looks at the fetal ultrasound exam and its resulting artifacts through the lens of communication, social and cultural theory. For a pregnant woman, having an ultrasound before the birth of her baby is a rite of passage almost universally accepted. Doctors and nurses schedule ultrasound exams at particular times during the pregnancy. [ [http://www.english.ilstu.edu/brasseur/Current%20Research%20for%20web%20page.htm Lee Brasseur, Current Research] . Retrieved 20 July 2008.]
Graph design process
In the 1994 paper "How computer graphing programs change the graph design process: results of research on the fill pattern feature" Brasseur shows that, graphing experts often critique the fill patterns which appear in many computer-generated graphs and charts because they can distract from and even distort the information. One of the reasons these fill patterns are so problematic is that they are automatically inserted into any plot a user chooses. In this paper she presents both a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of fill patterns and the results of research which compares the ways in which both computer designers and paper-and-pencil designers fill the enclosed areas of their graphs and charts. Results show that automatically placed fill patterns exert strong behavioral influences on computer designers and result in decisions that might be different than if they were using paper and pencil. [Lee E. Brasseur (1994). [http://delivery.acm.org/10.1145/200000/192438/p4-brasseur.pdf?key1=192438&key2=7985565021&coll=GUIDE&dl=GUIDE&CFID=15151515&CFTOKEN=6184618 "How computer graphing programs change the graph design process: results of research on the fill pattern feature"] . In: "ACM SIGDOC Asterisk Journal of Computer Documentation archive". Vol 18, 4. pp. 4 - 20.]
Illustrated medical manuals
In the 1995 article "Gendered Ideologies: Cultural and Social Contexts for Illustrated Medical Manuals in Renaissance England" Brasseur considers the social and political ideologies that affected the design of illustrations of the female body in English Renaissance medical manuals. Through a semiotic analysis, she examine medical illustrations explicitly tied to female bodies - anatomical illustrations of female genitalia, a clitorectomy, and a hymenectomy - to show that the ways in which a body or surgical procedure was visually represented served to create the "other". We learn, by extension, how social and political ideologies affect the decision making of modern day technical communicators. [Lee E. Brasseur and Torri L. Thompson (1995). "Gendered Ideologies: Cultural and Social Contexts for Illustrated Medical Manuals in Renaissance England". In: "IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication". Vol 38 Nr 4. Dec 1995. pp. 204-215.]
Experience and culture in computer graphing
In the 1999 paper "The role of experience and culture in computer graphing and graph interpretive processes" Brasseur supports critics of current approaches to the development of computer graphing and graph visualization programs which model the user as an individual problem solver reliant on perceptual skills. These critics argue that such a model of graphing is ill-suited to meet the complex needs of real users. This paper agrees with this criticism and provides conclusions from two bodies of literature on graphing practices which have not been traditionally cited in studies of computer development, graph production and human factors. These literature surveys are taken from the fields of the sociology of scientific and technical practices and of educational research in science and technology. Surveys of these literatures illustrate the importance of experience and culture in the successful practice of designing and interpreting graphs. [Lee E. Brasseur (1999). "The role of experience and culture in computer graphing and graph interpretive processes". In: "ACM Special Interest Group for Design of Communication archive". Proceedings of the 17th annual international conference on Computer documentation. New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. pp. 9-15.]
Visualizing Technical Information
The 2003 book "Visualizing Technical Information: A Cultural Critique" demonstrates the ways in which the leading technical visuals of information design, such as
graphs, charts, diagrams, tables, illustrations, and information visualization, are designed and read. Using genre theory as an analytical tool, the Brasseur makes the argument that problems with these visual forms are not necessarily the result of a designer's poor decisions or a reader's poor interpretation skills. Instead, there may be inherent problems in the visual genres themselves that are a direct result of their cultural history and current use. [Lee E. Brasseur (2003). "Visualizing Technical Information: A Cultural Critique". Back cover text.]
Brasseur uses genre theory as an analytical tool to examine the way in which visual technical genres are designed, discussed, and used. Each of the five selected forms of visual communication has a chapter of its own that outlines its history and development, and then dissects and scrutinises it.Each of the five major technical genres has a chapter devoted to it, where its evolution, types and classes, relationship of text to graph/graphic and the theory underlying the genre are scrutinised through the lens of genre theory. Peter Middleton (2004). "Visualizing Technical Information Visualizing". In: [http://www.istc.org.uk/Publications/Newsletter/News_2004/istcFeb2004.pdf "ISTC Newsletter"] . Feb 2004. Retrieved 20 July 2008.]
Neurocognitive and cognitive perceptual-based research studies are also cited to help us understand how we comprehend the technical visuals. Some illustrations of each visual genre are provided to demonstrate each argument, some of which (such as an early map plotting cholera deaths in London in 1854) are beautiful examples of the power of visual communication.
Lee E. Brasseur has written several articles and a book. [A full list of his publications can be found on his [http://www.english.ilstu.edu/brasseur/ Homepage] at the Dept. of English, Illinois State University.]
* 1997. "New American families : Chinese daughters and their single mothers : adoption stories about hope and love from Our Chinese Daughters Foundation". Compiled and edited with Jane A. Liedtke. Bloomington, IL : Our Chinese Daughters Foundation.
* 2003. "Visualizing Technical Information: A Cultural Critique". Amityville, NY : Baywood Publ.
Articles, a selection:
* 2001. "Critiquing the Culture of Computer Graphing Practices". In: "Journal of Technical Writing and Communication". Vol 31, nr.1. pp. 27-39.
* 2004. "Contesting the Objectivist Paradigm: Gender Issues in the Technical and Professional Communication Curriculum". In: [http://people.clarkson.edu/~johndan/read/centralworks/ "Central Works in Technical Communication"] . Edited by Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. Oxford press.
* 2005. "Florence Nightingale's Visual Rhetoric in the Rose Diagrams." In: "Technical Communication Quarterly" 14: 2.
* [http://www.english.ilstu.edu/brasseur/ Homepage] at the Dept. of English, Illinois State University.
* [http://www.english.ilstu.edu/people/profile.aspx?ulid=lbrasseu Lee Brasseur profile] at the Dept. of English, Illinois State University.
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