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Lesson: Visual Rhetoric
Lesson: Visual Rhetoric
Attached Files:
o Visual Rhetoric, Elements and Methods.pdf Visual Rhetoric, Elements and Methods.pdf – Alternative Formats (2.7 MB)
As with a written text, when analyzing a visual text, you should first take into consideration the key elements of the rhetorical situation: audience, purpose, and context. To examine how a visual conveys meaning, you can also consider the use of traditional rhetorical strategies such as logos, ethos, and pathos.
However, there are numerous other elements and methods that are somewhat unique to visual texts that ought to be considered as well. Open the attached file to read about these additional rhetorical strategies. You need to have a good understanding of these techniques to complete the analyses in upcoming discussion boards and the next formal essay.
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Essay #2 Instructions
Essay #2 Instructions
Attached Files:
o Visual Analysis Instructions.docx Visual Analysis Instructions.docx – Alternative Formats (15.455 KB)
Your next major essay in this course will be a visual analysis. You will have some choice in the material you select to analyze, although within certain parameters. Open the attached file to read the details and specific instructions for this essay.
Please note that you do not yet have to make any decisions about what you will analyze. First, you will complete a series of lessons and assignments in this unit, which will give you practice in conducting rhetorical analyses on various types of visuals and thus help you make an informed decision later on. So, for the moment, simply keep the expectations and requirements of the essay assignment in mind.
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Lesson: Reading Visual Texts in Context
Lesson: Reading Visual Texts in Context
Attached Files:
o Parks-Outside-Looking-In (1956).jpg (478.148 KB)
Click on the attached image. This is a famous photograph entitled Outside Looking In, by Gordon Parks, taken in Mobile, Alabama, in 1956. (Photo courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation).
To fully understand this image, you need to know something of the author (the photographer) and the historical context, which here has to do with both time and place. You can then more carefully consider the visual elements and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the image.
1. First, consider the author (the creator of the image). Click here to read a brief biography of photographer Gordon Parks.
2. Now, consider the context. You are likely aware that in the U.S. during the 1950s, public spaces and facilities were legally segregated. It was in the middle of that decade that the Civil Rights movement began to gain momentum, and Alabama was central to this, beginning with the bus boycott in Montgomery in 1955. This continued into the 1960s with key protests and clashes with authorities in the cities of Selma and Birmingham. If you are not familiar with this history, click here to read more about it.
3. Lastly, with all of this context in mind, consider how the various visual elements contribute to the overall meaning of this image. Here are a few things to take note of:
· Note the powerful symbol of the chain link fence, which creates a barrier, and note how dominant and imposing this feature in the photo; it takes up 3/4 of the space from bottom to top.
· Note that the black children and all in the foreground; the playground is in the distant background, which gives a sense of the distance the children feel by being excluded.
· Note the composition forces the viewer into a certain perspective–we are meant to look through the eyes of the children and see what they see, which adds to the sense of pathos in this image. 
· Note the use of bright colors, which commonly connote a sense of summer and fun; here, however, they create an ironic contrast to the reality of the situation. 
There are, of course, other elements you could examine and discuss. This is just to give you an idea of how to begin conducting a visual analysis.
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Lesson: Interpretive Claims (Thesis Statements)
Lesson: Interpretive Claims (Thesis Statements)
As you know from previous work, a thesis statement is the controlling idea or main claim in an essay. Such statements are often claims of policy (“The city council should allow …”) or assertions of a position in a debate (“It is a violation of civil rights to require …”).
However, when you engage in analysis, you are engaging in the act of interpretation. Therefore, the thesis you write will be an interpretive claim, one explaining to your reader what you believe to be the overall meaning or message of the text being examined.
Note some of the things that an interpretive claim in NOT. It is:
· NOT a mere description of the text (visual)
· NOT your personal opinion on the subject matter of the text
· NOT a mere summary of words, ideas, or imagery in the text 
Look back at the Gordon Parks photo. The observations there about the various rhetorical elements evident in the photo might lead one to an interpretive claim such as this:
“In Outside Looking In, photographer Gordon Parks makes effective use of color, symbols, and pathos to create a poignant image of childhood and a subtle but powerful critique of legalized segregation in the United States.”
ln this example, the writer’s interpretation is that the photograph is a critique of segregation, which is the meaning the writer finds in the photo.  The means Parks used to present this meaning are identified as “the effective use of color, symbols, and pathos.”  The writer’s use of the phrase “poignant image” reinforces the idea that the visual image is effective in reaching the reader on an emotional level.  
As you continue examining visuals in this unit, think about crafting interpretive claims of this type.

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