Conducting A Visual Analysis of Rhetoric

We come across many images on a daily basis, but we rarely stop to think about what those images mean or about how they persuade us. Yet, images have power, which is why we need to understand how to analyze them. When you’re analyzing an image to understand the message it portrays, this is called visual rhetoric. Visual rhetoric is a means of communication that uses images to create meaning or to make an argument.

The first thing to consider when breaking down, or analyzing, an image is the rhetorical situation: the audience, context, and purpose. Each of these elements is essential in order to understand the message an image portrays. It is important to remember that you can analyze all different types of images, including advertisements, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), websites, paintings, photographs, and more. Here, we will look at an advertisement:

Audience

The audience consists of who is being targeted by the author, designer, or creator. In the above image, it appears that the audience is men. How do we know this? Not only is the person running in the background a man, but the color of the watch and the size of the watch face indicate that the watch is likely a man’s watch. Of course, women could indirectly be an audience, too, since they might want to buy this watch for someone or wear it themselves. In addition, the audience might be male athletes or outdoor enthusiasts. If you pay close attention to the watch features, it includes North, South, East, and West orientations; it is digital with various modes that likely include a stopwatch, and it has a light for when it is dark. All of these features are likely to appeal to outdoors types, athletes, or both.

Context

The context includes any background information that will help you understand and analyze an image. In the above image, the most important context is that the watch is a Pro Trek watch. If you did some research, you would find out that Pro Trek watches are part of Casio, an electronics manufacturing company. Knowing that Casio is an electronics company, we might assume that they value functionality over aesthetics; therefore, this might be the reason why the above watch is not very decorative or complex, but is still the focal point of the image. This is because Casio wants to feature the watch’s functionality.

Purpose

Purpose refers to the overall goal for creating an image. With advertisements, that goal is fairly easy to understand. Advertisements are almost always made to sell items.

There are many other strategies to consider when breaking down an image. It’s always important to consider the rhetorical situation first, since that will help you interpret the purpose of the other strategies the designer uses. Then, you can begin to interpret the other persuasive techniques that influence the overall message of the image, including the tone, arrangement, text, typography, and color.

Tone

In literature, tone refers to the author’s attitude toward the subject. So, with regard to images, tone can also refer to the photographer/artist’s/designer’s perspective on the issue.

Arrangement

Arrangement refers to the placement of images, graphics, and text in an image. There are two key elements of arrangement—location and scale. Location refers to where a text or image is placed, whereas scale refers to the relative size of the visual components.

Location

Typically, our eyes scan an image, text, and/or webpage from left to right and from top to bottom. The designer of this advertisement has placed the Jello logo and the image of the product to the right side of the page. If the designer wanted our eyes to go to the logo first, he or she probably should have placed the logo at the top left corner so our eyes would catch that logo first. However, because the size of the watch is so large, it is obvious that the focus is the watch. This brings us to the term scale.

Scale

As discussed in class, image of the ice cream cone is much smaller in scale than the cup of pudding. Thus, the scale of the ice cream (its size in relation to everything else on the page), indicates that the designer wants to viewer to focus on the pudding, ensuring that viewers understands what this product being sold is, and how much better a cup of pudding for 60 calories is compared to a tiny bit of ice cream.

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Text

Text is another important element to analyze, assuming an image includes text. If it does, the text is obviously there for a purpose. Now, the only text on this advertisement is the company logo and the name of the dog food. This is obviously there for the purpose of showing viewers what type of dog food it is so they can find it online or in a store. However, it is possible that this image could have been more effective if it included a catch phrase like those we often see in print ads or in commercials (think of Skittles’ “Taste the Rainbow” or Subway’s “Eat Fresh” slogans). If you see an image with text, consider the connotations of the words, the possible underlying assumptions of the phrase, and the effect the words are meant to have on the audience.

Typography

Typography refers to the font size and font type choices that are made in a visual composition.

Font Size

Notice that the font size of ‘Jardiland’ is actually smaller than the ‘Light’ under it, indicated its a low fat dog food! This seems to actually reduce the importance of the company as compared to the importance of the benefits of this dog food for your pets. Do you think this is an effective visual strategy to persuade the audience?

Color

Color choices can really affect your audience, too. Colors can have different meanings (connotations) that implicitly portray a message. Colors can also enhance or detract from an image’s readability depending on the level of contrast used.

Connotation

Notice that this advertisement has yellow hues in the background. The orange/yellow hues from the background tie in nicely with this complimentary color of blue under the Pedigree logo. The color pops and gets your attention, and contrasts with the image of the dog in the foreground.

Readability

You also should think about practical concerns with color, such as whether or not the text color is contrasted well enough with the background so that it is readable.

In class we will also be analyzing a series of commercials,  – you will be tracking how these ads use rhetorical appeals, and determine if they effectively appeal to their audience. Additionally, you will form an argument on whether you believe the use of rhetoric in their advertisements has improved over time, and why.

Two of the ads we watched together focus on how a company can use music and an upbeat tone to sell their product, or how they can use diversity to appeal to a broad audience.

Apple iPhone 5s – 2014

Apple iPad Air – 2014

 

We also looked at how companies can use commercials that surprise us – either to shock us into action, or to rebrand their products in a new light.

The Sandy Hook Promise organization filmed their PSA to look like a real news report – this shocking irony got our attention and made the audience focus on the issue of gun violence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening up on a dalmatian, and focusing on a beautiful and unpolluted landscape with wind-turbines, the Superbowl ad put out by Buswieser this year focused on re branding their company as environmentally friendly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like you to analyze the visual rhetoric being used in the ads provided to you in class (color versions are posted below). Post a detailed analysis of the rhetorical devices being used in the advertisement and whether or not you think it uses these to effectively or ineffectively achieve its purpose in the comments below. You analysis should cover all the elements discuss in this post for visual rhetoric, as well as the elements of SOAPSTone, and should be at minimum of one 6 sentences – though a well done analysis may be longer.

10th Grade Literature Spring 2019

An Introduction to Rhetoric

We have begun what is probably the most important unit that you will study in this class – rhetoric. Rhetoric is ‘the art of speaking and writing well to achieve a purpose’, and it is all around you, all the time. Advertisements use rhetoric to persuade you to by their merchandise, organizations use rhetoric to garner your support and to recruit you as a follower, politicians use rhetoric to convince you to vote for them or their party, and so on. Once you learn how to identify and analyze rhetoric, you become very powerful – you can look behind the language that people or organizations use on you and figure out WHY and HOW they use language to persuade you – ultimately allowing you to make more informed choices.

 

The first aspect of rhetoric that we learned about today were the rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos and logos. Remember, we represent these appeals in the form of an equilateral triangle because good rhetoric should use an even mix of all three appeals.

 

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Please watch the video below from class today to review what exactly the appeals of ethos, pathos and logos are:

Remember, we will be examining advertisements, propaganda and speeches this week for their use of rhetoric, so make sure you are familiar with these concepts!

We also covered an easy acronym to help you analyze rhetoric in the documents and visuals we are covering in class – SOAPSTone Plus. Please see the helpful reminder below:

Arch Method

10th Grade Literature Spring 2019

Writing Your Second Informational, or Expository, Essay

For this unit’s writing assessment, you will write an informational essays over a series of selected passages that you are provided. Be sure to review your feedback from the first informational essay to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes twice! Below you’ll find additional review over informational essays if you need it:

According to Owl Purdue:

“The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

Please note: This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats.

The structure of the expository essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

It is essential that this thesis statement be narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment.  Does your thesis answer the prompt? If not, fix it!

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse.

  • Body paragraphs that include support.

Each paragraph should be limited to one general idea. Each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph.

  • Support! Support! (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

You should have two pieces of quality evidence from the sources that support your thesis statement in general, and the topic of that particular paragraph specifically. Use a mix of direct quotes and paraphrases.

  • A bit of creativity!

Though creativity and artfulness are not always associated with essay writing, it is an art form nonetheless. Try not to get stuck on the formulaic nature of  writing at the expense of writing something interesting. Remember, though you may not be crafting the next great novel, you are attempting to leave a lasting impression on the people evaluating your essay.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students will inevitably begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize and come to a conclusion concerning the information presented in the body of the essay.”

You will be graded with a rubric based on the EOC test rubric – please click here to review the grading tool.

For this essay you will be explaining some of the challenges that young people your age are facing in India today, as the country’s culture is quickly changing. Be sure to use information from BOTH passages provided to you in your essay.

Click here to access Word Doc versions of the documents:

Click here for your essay prompt.

Click here to access Source 1.

dreaming-big-in-the-new-india

 

Click to access PDF Versions of the documents:

Click here for your essay prompt.

Click here to access Source 1.

Click here to access Source 2. 

Remember:

• Use information from the two texts so that your essay includes important details.
• Introduce the topic clearly, provide a focus, and organize information in a way that makes
sense.
• Develop the topic with facts, definitions, details, quotations, or other information and
examples related to the topic.
• Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion.
• Clarify the relationship among ideas and concepts.
• Use clear language and vocabulary to inform about the topic.
• Provide a conclusion that follows the information presented.
• Check your work for correct grammar, usage, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation.

10th Grade Literature Spring 2019

Magical Realism and Academic Discussions

As we move forward in our unit on stories, we’ll look at the genre of writing known as Magical Realism.

magic-realism-paintings-rob-gonsalves-1001Magical Realism is a type of fiction – when a story that takes place in a realistic setting that is recognizable as our past or present world (this excludes futuristic space colonies, lost ancient cities), incorporating impossible or supernatural elements (ghosts, spirits, miracles, powers, prophecies, etc.) where these extraordinary things are viewed as not just normal but also unremarkable, and thus, nobody bothers to explain why they exist or happen. Or, where fantasy and reality are smashed together and everyone acts like its normal! Please see the video below for an overview of magical realism:

The Four Elements of Magical Realism are:

  • -Hybrid/Hybridization – this mixing of the real and unreal
  • -Irony
  • -Authorial Reticence – the author not clarifying details, but letting the reader decide for themselves
  • -Supernatural + Natural

Click here to access the story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Light is Like Water”.

As we discuss this story you will be asked to focus on one of the following aspects: Characters, Plot, Figurative Language, Elements of Magical Realism and Theme. In small groups you will discuss your analysis of the story, and then prepare to lead a small discussion for the class. We’ll be focusing on the speaking and listening standards during class discussion from now on, so be sure to work towards being able to do the following things during discussion:

 

  1. Be able to clearly answer the question being asked. No um’s, or looking around, or acting confused. Be prepared.
  2. Be able to reference exactly where you got your answer from, or be able to point out an illustration of your answer.
  3. Engage others by asking them questions, or being able to add to their answers without interrupting them.
10th Grade Literature Spring 2019

The Shape of Stories

In the next two weeks  we will be reading and examining a series of short stories, and discussing the ‘shape’ of short stories – their plots.

Many of you are probably familiar with a simplified version of Freytag’s Pyramid :middle-school-plot-diagram (1)

plot-shape-conflict-2-638However, while this is an easy way to remember the typical form of plot progression in Western storytelling, it is not completely accurate. Not all, not most, stories follow this plot progress. Stories have their own ‘shape’ – and the more interesting the plot of the story, the more interesting the shape.

Listen to amazing short story writer Kurt Vonnegut explain the ‘shape of stories’ by clicking the link below.

Click here to listen to Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘The Shape of Stories’.

Vonnegut explains that stories are much more complex that the typical Freytag’s Pyramid.

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Think of movies you’ve watched – what type of ‘shape’ did the plot create? Think about tv shows – each episode has its own plot, and then all the episodes in a season create a larger plot as well.

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As we read through the short stories in this unit I want you to consider the ‘shape’ of these stories. You will need to keep track of them – and decide which ‘shape’ make for the most interesting story.

Also remember that we’re looking at the shape of Western stories (stories from American or Europe) – stories from other cultures in Asian and the Middle East follow a much different plot structure. Stories in Asian culture are often told in a cyclical or spiral manner:

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If you’ve ever watched an Asian movie or tv show (Dragon Ball Z) and felt like so much information was being repeated, or that the story took a really long time to ‘get going’, it was probably because their storytelling structure is so different from ours.

Some modern storytellers and movie-makers like Christopher Nolan are trying to use new and interesting plot structures – if you’ve seen these movies and have been confused about what’s happen, that’s probably why!

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10th Grade Literature Spring 2019

Elements of Storytelling

As we transition from our unit on poetry to our unit on short stories and works of fiction, it is important to realize that you won’t just ‘chunk’ all of that poetry knowledge and analysis skills – hold on to them, as you’ll still need them for this unit.

Prose is generally made up for four elements:

Of these four, prose and poetry both use many of the same elements of figurative language, as we covered in class:

  • Imagery
  • Irony
  • Puns
  • Metaphor
  • Similes
  • Allusion
  • Repetition
  • Symbolism
  • Personification
  • Tone
  • Mood
  • Diction
  • Theme

 

The plot of a story will generally follow the five step model of Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Resolution, with characters, setting, context, conflict developing over the course of the story.

Other elements that prose can use to develop the plot and reinforce the theme are in medias res, foreshadowing, flashbacks, and the use of dialogue. 

Look at the short pieces of flash fiction from class below. Each of these stories is able to establish characters, setting, mood/tone, and theme through the use of carefully selected elements.

Contagious Bottles

Remy wants to take a walk on the reservation but everything is contagious. He knows once he sees the dirty bottles scattered across the road he will pick them up to see if a drop is left. His father begs him to go collect them, but he stuffs his hair inside his ears and pretends everything is quiet. One day he’ll walk on the reservation and there will be no more bottles; there will only be drunken bodies to carry off the road.

In this piece of flash fiction, we learn that the characters of Remy and his father are both Native Americans, as the setting is on a ‘reservation’. The context of the setting is important to the conflict of this short story – alcoholism is often a problem for Native Americans on reservations, and we can see that here with Remy’s father. The use of the word ‘contagious’ (diction) makes us believe immediately that something is wrong, or someone is sick. We see that the relationship between Remy and is father isn’t what it should be when we see the dad ‘beg’, and Remy ‘pretend’ that everything is ok. These few choices of words characters both of them. By the end, we understand that the bottles Remy’s father asks for are because he is an alcoholic, as “there will only be drunken bodies to carry off the road”. The characters are the most important elements of this story, and the tone is depressing. Remy thinks the ‘illness’ his father has is contagious, and is afraid he and others will get it.

Look at the other examples from class, and see if you can analyze how they use elements of storytelling to establish a theme.

The Bird

It came of nowhere: A giant crow, its plumage like a black silken coat. It is hard to tell where it wanted to go, for certainly it cannot have planned to be stuck in the spokes of my brand-new bicycle. In horror I watch the bird flapping its wings until finally it breaks its neck. I would have only further distressed it by trying to help. It would have only pecked my hand and scratched me with its claws. Carefully, I disentangle the animal from my precious bike. It would have died anyway.

 

Man on the Bus Eating Fruit
He ate the banana roughly. Chomping down so that it disappeared in huge chunks. He watched them, watching him. They were uneasy, and their chatter had died away. They were relieved to press the bell and get off the bus when their stop came, but as they alighted and the bus slowly started to pull away they couldn’t help looking up. He was still watching them. His forehead pressed against the window pane, biting into an apple.

 

What Roman Says

Roman says that I shouldn’t refer to him as my boyfriend. Labels like that, he says, create unrealistic expectations. When I assure him that I don’t have any expectations, unrealistic or otherwise, he smirks and says that women always say that. I ask for a ballpark estimate of the number of women he’s surveyed. He smirks again. I’m not sure which annoys me more, his patronizing facial expressions or his authoritarian need to control the terminology with which I’m permitted to describe our relationship. “No problem,” I say. “From now on I’ll just call you my ex-boyfriend.”

 

Outside The Chase

It starts with a heavy pinpoint, sharp, deep in the middle of Aaron’s heart. As he reads Megan’s letter, it swells and blooms, licks like fire through his veins.

This feeling should be love. It is love underneath, but it’s wrapped in something hard and cold and perpetual.

Death.

Death’s followed Aaron for twenty years.

Death came for Aaron’s father first, a cruel illness that halved his body (no more walks in the woods), laid him flat (no more car journeys to nowhere), muted him utterly (no more wise words), and finally sputtered him out like a spent candle.

Aaron was seven, and he didn’t understand.

10th Grade Literature Spring 2019

Conducting Research – Determining the Reliability of Sources

As we finish up our unit on poetry, you will be examining and researching a poem or work of art of your choice. The goal of this activity is for you to learn how to find reliable sources for research, as well as demonstrate you ability to analyze poetry and connect themes in a poem to multiple works.

You will be able to choose from the options below for this activity:

Option One: Find a poem of your choice, determine the theme, and analyze five poetic devices that support or reinforce that theme. Then, research a work of art that you believe has the same theme. Be able to explain the connection between the two pieces. You may also create a work of art that illustrates the same theme.

Option Two: Find a work of art of your choice, determine the theme, and analyze five artistic devices that support or reinforce that theme. Then, research a poem that you believe has the same theme. Be able to explain the connection between the two pieces. You may also write a poem that illustrates the same theme.

Option Three: Research a poet or artist that not only created written works, but visual works of art to accompany them. Find a poem and piece of art by this person that you believe compliment each other. Identify the theme, and analyze five poetic or artistic devices used.

Option Four: Complete option one or two, but with the pre-selected poem and WWI paintings provided below.

For each option you will have to include a works cited page with at least five sources. See the sample below, or click here for a full sample.

Once you  have determined which poem or painting you will be analyzing, , you will need to make sure you use only RELIABLE SOURCES!

Remember, reliable sources are those that can be trusted to provide unbiased, factual information. Reliable sources include .org, .gov or .edu websites, books, news organizations, educational journals or publications.

Unreliable sources cannot be trusted for accuracy or for an unbiased perspective. Unreliable sources include Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, any .net or .com website, blogs, editorials from newspapers, or forums.

Click here to view the worksheet from class on reliable vs unreliable sources.

Remember, if you have a hard time determine if a source is reliable or not, you can always ask us to check it with you!

You will need to gather information from reliable sources to answer the questions you’ve selected from above, and be sure to paste the information in your GoogleDocs. You will need to use this information throughout the week to write an extended essay response, so please save your research!

How you present this project is up to you. You may create a powerpoint, a prezi, write an essay, make a poster board, or come up with another creative option. You will be assessed on the following elements: Did you accurately and adequately analyze the poem or painting that you selected (including identifying the theme and five devices)? Did you explain how the poem/painting you picked to pair with it is related? Did you use reliable sources to back up your research into these poems or works of art? Did you share your reliable sources on a properly formatted works cited page? As long as you accomplish these elements, how you choose to present the project is your choice completely.

Click here for the grading rubric for this project.

Click here for a powerpoint sample project.

Click here for a PDF sample of this project. 

 

 

Option Four Sources:

For those of you that would like to work with a pre-selected poem and work of art, a WWI poem and painting are available for you to use. The poem is Dulce Es Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, and the painting is one of the following:

“GAS! GAS!” by Otto Dix

10th Grade Literature Spring 2019