As visual images increasingly cover the façade of social space and public life, the utility of these surfaces-of-display must be examined beyond displayed content. The preponderance of surfaces says something about the publics that stand before the invitation of visual communication. Before an encounter with content, there is the encounter with surface. As the Nike, Inc. advertising campaign “Chamber of Fear” reveals, that encounter serves a vital purpose in the relationship between publicity and visual communication.
Public Culture Spring 2010 22(2): 309-331
Since the Great Recession of 2008, a myriad of social and political forces has provoked a discourse about the vitality of the liberal arts, which brings an identity crisis to the fore. Defenders of the liberal arts have deployed a negative critical stance, positing the liberal arts as external to liberalism as a public culture. This stance limits criticism’s political potential because it ignores the productive role of liberal cultural constraints in forming social bonds and creating self-understandings. As the liberal arts grapple with an evolving liberty to learn, so too might the rhetorical arts commit to the productive possibilities of simulation and judgment. 
Rhetoric Society Quarterly Spring 2017 47(2): 158-179;
Wide-ranging and stimulating, The Politics of the Superficial ultimately posits that, far from serving as a communal oasis for public imagination, contemporary visual culture offers the possibility for politically engaged communication and persuasion while simultaneously threatening the health of public discourse by atomizing its constituent parts. It will serve as a vital contribution to the field of visual rhetoric.
University of Alabama Press, 2016
The Politics of the Superficial
The Constrained Liberty of the Liberal Arts and Rhetorical Education
LeBron James and the Protocol of Display
One Fish,Two Fish; Red State, Blue State
POROI 2008 5(2)
To the extent that the production of images occurs in spaces apart from visual experience, display and circulation become more immediate forces in visual cultures. They create a space for public activity to the extent that individuals not only see images but also offer them up to the vision of others. The preponderance of commercial images is not necessarily incidental to these visual practices of display. Visual images come to serve as a primary means for communicating ideas in spaces that are marked by the tension between private and public interests.  
Journal of Communication and Religion 2006 29(2): 370-393
Posture's Plasticity and the Faithful Pose
The publication of revisions to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), the guide for the practice of the Catholic Mass, serves to reaffirm the meaningfulness of faithful bodies. This essay seeks to examine how conventions of vision serve to make bodies meaningful, as well as how the GIRM and critiques of the document negotiate the meaning of faithful bodies and how those contested meanings create different notions of individual and corporate identity. With a conception of how bodies become meaningful, the essay seeks to account for how discourses about bodily comportment inform and stand in for other discussions that confronts Catholicism in America.
The University of North Dakota Annual Arts & Culture Conference
Politics and the Graphic Image
(2011)
Binary Inventions
(2012)
Cultures of Curation
(2013)
Professor Footnote Podcast

Accountability on Twitter 
Video Project

​Isocrates Against the Sophists
Web Comic
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Brett Ommen is the author of The Politics of the Superficial and an experienced writer, researcher, and educator in the fields of Visual, Consumer, and Civic Communication.

Inquiries should be directed to brett [at] twopointommen [dot] com