Essay 2: Visual Analysis

What: Select a visual text to analyze in a 3-4 page essay.
First, choose a visual text. Make sure that you are able to identify the designer or artist.
Selection Criteria:
•Since this is a visual analysis, find a text composed in a visual mode—for simplicity’s sake, you
should choose a still image.
•You may choose from a wide array of media; however whether you choose a t-shirt, an album cover,
a photograph, a map, a mural, or something else, remember that visual analysis focuses on what
visual elements mean rather than on what words or other written language means. (this does not
prohibit choosing visual media that contain verbal elements, just be aware that the essay focus should
remain on how the elements function visually)
Study the visual composition of your chosen text carefully, taking detailed notes of what you see. These
notes will become the visual descriptions that you use as evidence in your analysis and the more precise
you are in description, the more effective your analysis will be.
Once you have catalogued what you can see, analyze the visual features of the text in relationship with
the rhetorical situation to arrive at an interpretation of their meaning and purpose.
•Explain how choices about visual design, for example, such as spatial arrangement or use of color,
might be intended to portray the issue and impact the audience.
•Break down the design of the text using the terms already presented in ENGL 1101.
Your essay’s thesis should explain the significance of the visual parts in connection to the purpose and
meaning of the whole. Throughout the essay, contextualize your analysis by referring to parts of the
rhetorical situation as justification.
Ultimately the essay should make a compelling case that addresses how the visual text provides
evidence of the author’s efforts to influence a specific audience to do, think, or feel something
How: You should connect the image with your analysis in as much detail as possible. To successfully
complete the visual analysis, you must consider the following essay elements.
Contents and Development: •An original title that reflects the essay’s subject
•Visual analysis that focuses on the visual text
•Thorough explanation of relevant rhetorical situation and context
Remember that rhetorical situations include text, audience, author, the subject matter/topic,
•Specific identification of the text’s audience, explanation of how audience influences the rhetoric,
and consideration of who is included/excluded
Guiding Questions—What does this image communicate? What does it mean?
•Detailed and thorough description of at least three elements of the visual text’s formal design (e.g.,
colors, use of line, fonts, shape, framing, etc)
•Direct statements connecting the elements of the text’s design to a rhetorical strategy
In other words, the essay explains the design elements’ contribution to the text’s effort to make
the audience do, think, feel, or act in a particular way.
•Analysis with concrete and vivid descriptions of details from the image, explaining them to
specifically point out features of the image that are vital to your interpretation.
•Consistent focus on presenting a convincing and original analysis of the text’s visual rhetoric
•An introductory paragraph that identifies the visual text, its author(s), and provides context helpful
for understanding the analysis
•Introduction contains a direct statement of a thesis about the visual text’s meaning, visual design,
and rhetorical strategies
•Body paragraphs that are unified and have clear topic sentences while also introducing and
analyzing evidence
•Paragraphs arranged to support the thesis statement
•A conclusion that highlights the key points of the analysis and leaves the reader with a sense of the
visual text’s significance
Formatting, Mechanics, Language Usage, and Grammar:
•Citation for visual text that follows MLA formatting
•MLA formatting used consistently throughout the essay, which includes an MLA name block/header
•Writing that contains minimal errors in mechanics, syntax, and grammar, specifically as it pertains to
coherence or clarity
A 3–4 page analysis including:
Specific details and analysis
A coherent organizational structure that supports your focus
A clear connection between your chosen image and your specific analysis
A strong sense of your purpose and audience
Proofreading and MLA formatting (12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman or Helvetica
font with appropriate MLA front-matter, header, work cited page for your chosen visual text, and
general formatting)
•Visual submitted to discussion thread by October 8
•Essay submitted to the D2L appropriate assignment folder no later than midnight on October 22
•Essay submitted as a Microsoft Word file (.doc or .docx