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Visual Analysis writing assignment

Visual Analysis writing assignment

For this assignment, please choose between the two approaches to analyzing visual messages outlined here. Find a visual message from the public media– you have almost complete freedom of choice, as long as it was found in print, web or broadcast formats, "published" or at least posted. Originality is encouraged.

Whichever of the two approaches you try, the essay must be a minimum of 2000 words, posted in Moodle. If you cut and paste your text from a Word document, be sure to reformat it, because Moodle will usually not recognize the formatting. Include the image you are analyzing, or if it is a motion picture, television show or commercial, include a still image from your subject. This assignment is worth 30 points, so be as thorough as possible.

IMPORTANT: If you sumbit your work as a Word document, you MUST label your file lastname_analysis or it will not be graded. It is very difficult to work with dozens of unnamed files.


Based on the Visual Analysis lecture and eBook chapter, choose a visual message to analyze using the same criteria outlined in the eBook:



Visual Cues

Semiotic signs and codes

Cognitive elements

Purpose of the work

Image aesthetics

Next, analyze your subject according to the six perspectives:

Personal (how you personally like or dislike it, and why)

Historical (do not simply rehash the entire history of the medium)

Technical (do not explain how a medium works; put your image in perspective)

Ethical (you do not need to address all of the sub-categories, only relevant ones)

Cultural (what does this say about current cultural values, etc.)

Critical (what lessons can we learn from this visual message?)

OPTION #2: Visual Literacy emphasis

In her definition of visual literacy, Dr. Bamford cites the term intermediality “to describe the combined literacies needed to read in a multi-media world.” In the subsection Strategies to promote visual literacy, she writes that our application of “critical knowledge” in analyzing (re: decoding, reading) media messages would ideally be done “in a creative and innovative way so imagination is interwoven through the idea of being “critical” and reasoned responses are combined with affective and imaginative responses.” (5)

Adobe provides a handy rubric of intuitive elements to consider, in four categories:





Of course within each of these categories 4-6 questions are found, which any thorough analysis of a visual message would benefit from. The rubric is located on page 6 of the Visual Literacy White Paper. Take a look at the questions before deciding which approach to take for this assignment.

Last Updated on February 11, 2019

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