Visual Analysis Essay

Lecture on Writing a Visual Analysis Essay With this essay, you will be basically writing a rhetorical analysis on a visual text – a photo/ad (printed advertisement from a magazine, etc.) or a short commercial (video). If using a video, the video should be 30 seconds or less. I thought it would be helpful to give you a few notes on analyzing a visual format. Visual Analysis: We do this every day, but mostly subconsciously. On a daily basis, you are probably analyzing websites, photos, brochures, and advertisements. In this course, you will analyze both written and visual texts, but in addition to analyzing audience, purpose, and context, you will also need to discuss these by focusing on the visual elements of the work. • Consider the ad’s rhetorical situation, which is its intended audience, purpose, and context or circumstances. • Audience: Who is this ad for? • Purpose: What message is the company or organization trying to send? • Context: How might people see this ad? Where and when will they see it? • Think about how the visual elements achieve their goal for the intended audience, purpose, and context. Visual elements might include the following: Colors and shading Objects and shapes People and places Composition and arrangement of elements on the page or screen Focus of the camera (for both still or video) Foreground and background • The Introduction Include the name of the ad: “The Mean Joe Green” Coca-Cola ad or “Lyndon B. Johnson Daisy Girl” campaign ad. Include an overview of the ad and the desired purpose or goal of the ad. Thoughts or feelings evoked. Actions suggested by the ad. Your thesis should argue how the ad achieves the response it desires from viewers and guide the structure of your essay, based on some of the above elements. Ex: “The Mean Joe Green” Coca-Cola advertisement uses rhetorical appeals and visual aspects to convey that drinking their product can bring people together and provide happiness to consumers. Your thesis could be more prescriptive and have three elements to set up a five-paragraph essay, but a somewhat open-ended thesis like the one above will work. • The Body Based on my example above, I could then do a number of things in the body paragraphs. For example: A body paragraph on the appeal to pathos (emotion). A body paragraph on perspective or point of view (from the kid’s point of view). A body paragraph on the music and graphics at the end (an appeal to logos or pathos). A body paragraph on the symbolism of the jersey being tossed to the kid and all that it implies (bringing people together, etc.) • These are just some examples. You do not want to try and cover everything. Choose one point that the ad is trying to make and use your body paragraphs to support your claim, and be sure to transition between paragraphs.

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