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

Preparing for the AP Exam – Free Response Question 2: Rhetorical Analysis

Section II of the AP Language and Composition Exam contains three free response questions, which students will have 2 hours and 15 minutes (or 135 minutes) to complete. Section II of the exam accounts for 55% of students scores. It is suggested that students spend:

  • 15 minutes for reading source materials for the synthesis prompt (in the free-response section)
  • 120 minutes to write essay responses to the 3 free-response questions

Prompt Types

  1. Synthesis: Students read several texts about a topic and create an argument that synthesizes at least three of the sources to support their thesis.
  2. Rhetorical Analysis: Students read a non-fiction text and analyze how the writers language choices contribute to his or her purpose and intended meaning for the text.
  3. Argument: Students create an evidence-based argument that responds to a given topic.

You have been practicing the Rhetorical Analysis, or Q2, prompt all year without even knowing it! Every rheotrical analysis you have done up till point has prepared you for the Q2 free response questions, so breathe easy AP kids – it won’t be as hard as you imagine!

 

There are a few things you can do to to ensure you do your best on the Q2 Essay:

  1. Read the prompt carefully! The prompt is the small paragraph at the top of the page – it should tell you vital information such as who the author of the piece is/was, the title of the piece, when it was published and where. Sometimes the prompt give you more information, such as the historical context of the piece, the author’s perspective or position, or the purpose of the piece. The prompt will also tell you exactly what to write!
  2. Read the text and annotate it! This is what the essay is all about… and I can assure you that those of you who annotate the text will do better than those who do a cold-writing. Remember, you’re not just looking for every stylistic and rhetorical device they author has used – you want to pay attention to the ones that seem to be most effective in achieving the purpose or appealing to their specific audience. Don’t forget the canons – delivery, organization and arrangement can be the things that help you write a deep analysis and not a surface level assessment of the rhetoric being used.
  3. MANAGE YOUR TIME. Don’t spend 30 minutes annotating the text, even though it is an important step. Also, don’t spend 30 minutes writing the introduction. You will have 135 minutes for all three essays, so its important that you learn to manage your time and work quickly and efficiently.
  4. Don’t just list all of the devices you see – pick the most effective ones to write about, and write DEEPLY about them. You need to pick an angle to write you analysis from… don’t just go through the text in chronological order and list all the devices the author uses!

 

While I will be giving you feedback on your timed writing and you will be conducting peer review throughout the semester, I strongly suggest you meet with me after school or during lunch to review your writing at some point. The more one-on-one time we can spend on your writing the better, and unfortunately we just don’t always have time to do that together in class.

**NOTE – I will be uploading ALL of the past rhetorical analysis prompts from previous AP Language and Composition Exams for you in the ‘Resources’ tab. PLEASE PRACTICE SOME OF THESE ON YOUR OWN. We can only do so many in class together before we have to move on and study the Synthesis Essay and the Argumentative Essay….. I am more than willing to work with you after school if you choose to practice additional prompts on your own! 🙂

 

AP Language and Composition Spring 2018

SOAPSTone Plus – A Review

We’re jumping right into rhetorical analysis this semester, and therefore you will need to briefly review the arch methods analysis using SOAPSTone Plus that we covered last semester. Below you will find a review and an example.

 

Arch Method

Arch Method Rowlandson

 

 

 

You can also click here to review an in-depth powerpoint over the SOAPSTone Plus analysis method.

Please let me know if you have any questions or issues over this review!

 

 

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018 Uncategorized

Colonialism – What is the relationship between the citizen and the State?

As you read and analyzed Jamacia Kincaid’s article this week, “On seeing England for the first time”, you explored the idea of the relationship between the citizen and the State within the system of Colonialism. You guys did a wonderful job analyzing the context of the speech in Socratic Seminar this week, and you began to explore how Kincaid made her feels as a citizen clear through her rhetoric.

You will work this week on engaging with our Essential Question for this unit through a choice of three different assignments. Please see the attachment below for the assignment sheet. You will have the option to choose a visual project, a written project, or a video/audio project. Additionally, you have the option of engaging with this essential question in the form of an informational/expository response, a compare and contrast response, or an argumentative response.

Remember, you must use two reliable sources and cite them in MLA format in whichever option you choose.

Click here to access your Colonialism assignment sheet.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Conducting A Visual Analysis of Rhetoric

In the article we read from Ann Hodgeman, she takes a satirical look at the use of advertising used to persuade people to purchase particular brands of dog food. Read the post below, or/and view the powerpoint for an explanation on how to analyze visual rhetoric.  Then follow the bolded instructions at the bottom for your assignment.

Click here for the powerpoint over the 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, andpurpose. 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. In our example image, the purpose is to sell the Pro Trek watch.

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. In our image above, the tone is a bit hard to interpret. However, the fact that the watch is focused and up close while the background image of a person is blurred gives us a clue: it seems that the designer is portraying that the wearer of the watch is not that important. The watch is what’s significant. Perhaps the message is that anyone can wear these watches. Whether or not this is an effective approach to selling the watch is up for debate!

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 Pro Trek logo and the image of the watch to the right side of the page—top and bottom, respectively. 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, image of the watch is both large and focused (compared to the blurred image of the man). Thus, the scale of the watch (its size in relation to everything else on the page), along with the sharp focus, indicates that the designer wants to viewer to focus on the watch, ensuring that viewers can see all the neat features this watch has to offer, while not getting distracted by other text or images.

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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. This is obviously there for the purpose of showing viewers what type of watch 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 Pro Trek is actually smaller than the time indicated on the watch! This seems to actually reduce the importance of the company as compared to the importance of the watch itself. Do you think this is an effective visual strategy to persuade the audience to buy a Pro Trek watch?

Font Type

The font type we see with the words Pro Trek is strong, bolded, and in ALL CAPS. Since this advertisement is for a men’s athletic watch, the STRONG, SERIOUS FONT TYPE is probably more effective than a silly or playful font type.

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.

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Connotation

Notice that this advertisement has red hues in the background and orange/yellow hues in the background and on the watch. The orange/yellow hues from the background tie in nicely with this same color in the watch, creating a sense of coherence that makes the design feel professional and therefore convincing. The red hues could connote warmth, raising the heart beat, getting the blood pumping, which all symbolize that the watch is effective for athletes.

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.

 

Ultimately, the image we have just broken down has both effective and ineffective rhetorical effects (persuasive effects). For instance, the absence of a catchy phrase might detract from its persuasiveness, or the blurred image of the man might indirectly signal that the company cares more about the watch than who its users are. On the other hand, though, the absence of text might send the message that the watch is so amazing it speaks for itself. The blurred image might simply reflect the movement of a man running, further emphasizing that this man is using the watch for athletic purposes. These decisions about the effectiveness of each strategy really depend on your individual analysis of the image. This is how you will make an argument about its effectiveness. While the above terminology will be helpful for analysis, regardless of the terminology, the most important thing to remember is this: visuals portray meaning, just as language does. If you take the time to understand the strategies used in images to create meaning, then you will become a stronger critical thinker, understanding how images are persuading you on a daily basis.

 

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, and should be at minimum of one 6 sentences – though a well done analysis may be longer.

You must also comment on two classmates’ posts, engaging them in discussion of the analysis they conducted.

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AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

SOAPSTone Plus – A Review

We’re jumping right into rhetorical analysis this semester, and therefore you will need to briefly review the arch methods analysis using SOAPSTone Plus that we covered last semester. Below you will find a review and an example from Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative that we read together last semester.

Arch Method

Arch Method Rowlandson

 

 

 

You can also click here to review an in-depth powerpoint over the SOAPSTone Plus analysis method.

Please let me know if you have any questions or issues over this review!

 

 

AP Language and Composition Spring 2017