The Visual Analysis Paper

The Visual Analysis Paper
How to write a rhetorical analysis essay
of primarily visual texts with a focus on
demonstrating the author’s understanding
of the rhetorical situation and design
Basic Form
• Use an MLA header but use your correct in-text
citation and add a runner with a “Reference”
section at the end if you are working with APA
• Or with MLA use name and page number for
each page with a “Works Cited” page at the end.
• Paper should be about three to four pages (3-4)
long including the graphic you are analyzing
within the text.
• One more page will have your citations in your
correct format. You will need to give from where
you drew the picture,
APA puts in a running
banner here. MLA
do as it is shown
Depending on your system your paper should end
with either
MLA: Works Cited
APA” References
Like any rhetorical analysis essay
(such as literature or music), an essay
analyzing a visual document should in
its introduction quickly establish what
the author intends to do:
So what should be in the opening Paragraph?
• Define the task, making it clear this is not an
evaluation essay or an overt argument.
• Clearly state what the document under
consideration is and possibly give some
pertinent background information about its
history or development.
The intro can be a good place for a quick,
narrative summary of the document. The key
word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with
something large (for example, an entire episode
of a cartoon like the Simpsons) Save more indepth descriptions for your body paragraph
• Thus, if dealing with a smaller document (like a
photograph or an advertisement), the introduction
or first page is a good place to integrate it into
• Do not think that you have to know everything about a
photo—in fact the best essays are based on images in
which there is room to interpret.
• There may be information in text with the photo but
maybe not.
• Do not describe ideas which can not be seen in the
actual image. So do not use your mother and tell the
reader who important this woman is if there is not clear
evidence within the image that she is your mother.
• Describe what is actually there. Personal interpretation,
is fine but not personal data.
Review this Film of a Visual Analysis
which we say in class
• Give a basic run down of the rhetorical
situation surrounding the document:
– the author,
– the audience,
– the purpose,
– the context.
• Compose a clear thesis.
– Not a statement of intent
– Not a rhetorical question
– See Owl page for some examples.
• There are a range of ways to analyze an image
Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)
• 1. Chronological
– If the Writer is analyzing a photo essay on the web
or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows
the author to present his or her insights in the same
order that a viewer of the document experiences
those images.
– It is likely that the images have been put in that
order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of
analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.
• 2. Spatial
Left to right and top to down
The eye will naturally look for center
Lines are often used to provide direction
the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left
to right.
• 3, Persuasive Appeals: These concepts roughly correspond to the
logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade.
– logos,
– pathos, and
– ethos
Restate observations and make
a broader application
The links on the next page will take you to the original OWL document upon
which this was based as well as other definition pages. Also there are links to at
least two site which might provide you with an interesting image.
Useful Links
• Purdue OWL on Visual Analysis
• Visual Analysis PDF Duke University
• How do I structure my Visual Analysis?
• A Visual Resource-- Flickr
• American Society of Magazine Editors 40 years
Conferences – Where to Find Me
Turn Around
Through these White Doors
Into this Hall
The School of Arts and Humanities
Step in and Up to the Window
Joyce Applegarth Will Greet you
Take a Seat
When Directed by Joyce
Behind the 2nd Door on the Right