In this class you’ll produce two short analytical essays focusing on visual artifacts, two multimedia projects, a final project (that may be collaborative if desired) including an oral presentation, regular blog posts, and complete the Learning Record.

Blog Posts

You’ll write one short blog post (approximately 250 words) at least once a week, sharing an image, link, video, etc relevant to our course readings and discussions. They can be informal in tone but should be thoughtfully and clearly composed, and include at least one direct reference to our research. Be sure to tag your posts appropriately. You’ll also respond to at least two other blog posts during the week. These responses should be substantive. “This is cool” responses are strongly encouraged (because hopefully the content will indeed be cool, and everyone likes encouragement) but for full credit please move beyond that. We’ll set up a schedule for posts so they do not all appear at once. I’ll occasionally provide a specific question or prompt for everyone to respond to.

Additional guidelines: we’re working on the internet, so there may be graphic content. Please be considerate and use warnings and jump cuts as necessary.

You’re more than welcome to use the blog space for more than required posts. The blog is a good place to work through questions, get feedback, or bookmark interesting material. My general policy is not to comment on blog posts within Tumblr itself; you should view it as a sandbox for your thoughts on the course. I read the posts regularly, and they will help guide our classroom discussion.

We will decide as a class which blogging platform to use and what our tagging policy will be.

Short Visual Analysis

Description: demonstrate your grasp rhetorical concepts and compositional techniques in a brief analysis of 300-400 words. Your objective is to explain how the image uses rhetoric to persuade its audience, and to make a judgement as to whether it is an effective one. In contrast to your blog posts, these short essays should use a more formal academic tone, and provide traditional MLA citations for your sources.

The purpose of this assignment is to give you practice and experience with the process of visual analysis and with rhetorical analysis in general; considering elements of rhetoric and composition, and identifying rhetorical appeals.

Step 1: select an image
Step 2: identify a preliminary context for an image (who what when where why how)
Step 3: make a list of concrete observations. What is the primary image? What colors are used? How is it framed – what is in primary focus? What is in secondary focus? What is the background?
Step 4: make a list of inferences for the image – what might these different elements mean? Refer to Ch 1 of Picturing Texts for assistance.
Step 5: write a summary of your observations and your conclusions – do you personally find the image rhetorically effective? how do you think your perspective on the image might differ from the original intended audience for the image?
Step 6: post/reblog the image (with appropriate attribution to the image creator) to the course tumblr, tagging it as usual.
Step 7: create a page in your Learning Record wiki folder and post your analysis there.

As you compose your work consider what impact the format of your composing platform(s) has on your writing process. In your analysis, you might also consider how the texts framing your image impact your reading of the visual text. For example, does the creator’s title change the way your read an image?

Visual Argument 1.1

Building on the short visual analysis, for this assignment you’ll create a visual argument by modifying an existing image. This assignment will help prepare you for the final project. As you go through the steps, stop to think about what aspects of the assignment gave you pause, what new skills you learned, and how you learned them; these are useful observations to include in your Learning Record.

Step 1: think about an audience you want to persuade
Step 2: select an image
Step 3: using photoshop, GIMP, or another similar editing tool, modify the image so that it suits your argument.
Step 4: briefly summarize your audience for the text, and your aims in using this image; that is, what affordances of this medium made you choose it over another? Why do you think it is effective for this audience?
Step 5: post the written summary to pbworks.
Step 6: post the image to tumblr with appropriate tags.

Visual Argument 1.2

For this assignment, you will remix a classmate’s argument into a dramatically different medium/argument. This assignment will help you think constructively about mediums and their audiences.

Step 1: Analyze the existing visual argument. The following checklist may be helpful:

  • what is the central idea of the image?
  • who is the targeted audience? If you can’t tell, what is missing that would help you understand who they are?
  • what is the overall effect of the design – is it busy, serene, quiet, understated, cutting edge?
    what is the balance of the image?
  • how is space used in the image – is there a lot of white space, is there strong contrast between the background and foreground, etc?
  • what about the image first attracts your attention – is it a primary image, text/text placement, humor, discomfort?
  • if there is text in the image, how does it affect your reading of the image? What font style & size is used, and why?
  • what kind of argument is it making – primarily emotional or logical (most will use both, but be weighted in one direction)?
  • are there extra graphics in the image – logos, exterior image frames, etc.? How do they affect your reading of text?
  • what sociocultural attitudes are apparent in the image? Which are directly addressed, and which are implied?
  • Think carefully about what will be the most effective use of their existing image for your purposes.

Step 2: edit the image using any of the tools we’ve learned about this term, modifying the image so that it suits your argument.
Step 3: using the checklist above, briefly summarize your audience and your revision process.
Step 4: post the written summary to pbworks.
Step 5: post the argument to tumblr with appropriate tags.

Annotated Bibliography

By now you should have some ideas about your final project for the course. This assignment is designed to formalize your brainstorming & pre-composing processes. To begin, gather at least four of the sources you’ve reviewed in thinking about your final; given the nature of the course, these may be articles, commercials, tweets, etc.
Step 1: Use MLA style citation, and provide a brief (100-200 words) descriptive and evaluative summary of the source. Who is the intended audience? What is the intended purpose of the material? What is the claim? Is it persuasive? What is the authority of the creator (are they credible)? How is it relevant to your project? At the end of your summary link out to your source.
Step 2: Write a brief description (no more than 250 words) of your proposed project.
Step 3: Select an image to represent your project.
Step 4: Put the whole thing on your blog. Place your primary image at the top and then the rest below a cut tag. Tag your post appropriately.

Here is an example of annotated bibliographies at the Owl at Purdue.

Mid-term update – in class small groups
Per mid-term feedback, from 03/26/15 onward, we’ll start the class with ~20 minutes of small group discussion. In preparation for your conversations, please prepare at least 2 detailed questions about the reading. Your questions should:

  • demonstrate a thorough understanding of the basic concepts of the reading (that is, they shouldn’t cover anything that can be answered through a quick google search or a scan of wikipedia).
  • point to specific passages in the reading – quotations are strongly encouraged.
  • think about connections between this reading and the other readings we’ve done.
  • think about connections between this reading and the blog posts you’ve been looking at by your colleagues (they can also work as excellent starting points for posts of your own).
  • be posted to your wiki by midnight the day before class. Please note they are required for each class period going forward, even on days that are tech/workshop days.

In-class Presentations
The in-class presentations are designed to let you preview your work to an interested and informed audience, and to work through your ideas in multiple formats. Your peers will give you feedback on your presentation, which should be:

  • polished and professional
  • about 5 minutes long
  • make use of multimedia resources
  • summarize your issue and explain why it is of interest
  • summarize your audience and explain why your project is effective for them
  • demonstrate use of the rhetorical theories and strategies we’ve talked about in class
  • engage the audience (your peers)
  • demonstrate thorough preparation 

Final Project
You will design a final project for the course in lieu of having a final exam. If you have an especially complex idea, you may work in groups. Groups and the project idea must get preliminary approval before starting work.

For this project, you will select an issue or question and design a visually appealing persuasive argument. The project may be in any format you feel is appropriate for your subject and audience, and should be posted or linked to on the course blog.


  • Format/material:these are very flexible
  • Composition: the project must show: a clear claim, the deliberate choices of persuasive strategies and arrangement of material, inclusion of the theories we have covered in class.
  • Effect:The project must show that a very targeted audience has been chosen for the argumentWhat will the audience get out of your work? Does the project critique, analyze, interrogate, and/or inform?
  • Metadiscourse: In addition to the visual portion of your project, you will write a short essay (a minimum of 400 words) that explains your composition process and post it in your wiki folder. It should carefully describe:
  • Your specific target audience
  • The rhetorical purpose of your project, and why you think your project is effective.
  • Your composition process: how did your research go? What primary resources did you pull from?What secondary sources did you use?
  • What was your original idea for the project, and how does your final work differ from that? What led to the change? What feedback from your peers or the professor did you find most useful? (your Learning Record observations will be invaluable for this portion)
  • You must include a copy of a complete Peer Review along with your work.
  • Citations: all copyrighted work that was used in the creation of your project should be listed on a works cited page or section, using MLA format.
    Have fun!

The Online Learning Record

This course is assessed through a portfolio system, which is discussed here. Completion of the LR is a requirement of the course.

Writing Flag Statement

This is a writing flag course for the University of Texas at Austin. This course carries the Writing Flag. Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline. In this class, you can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing. You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and to read and discuss your peers’ work. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your written work.

Assessment: if by now you’re thinking “that’s all great but how do we get a grade?” CLICK HERE.