Visual Analysis

For this assignment, you’ll find an image that you find especially moving and that makes a discernible argument, and you’ll write a 3-page paper in which you both identify and analyze its pathetic appeals. Here are some student examples from previous semesters: AlinaCarnahan and Tristan Watson.

Specifics: First, find your image. Be sure to select one that both moves you and makes an explicit argument. You might start here: 100 Most Influential Images of All Time. Or here: New York Times’ Decade in Pictures. Then, in the equivalent of a 3-page double-spaced paper, identify the pathetic appeal(s) in this image and analyze it by completing the following:

  • Introduce your image by describing the context: where did it appear? What is the historical or cultural background that situates the argument? Who is the target audience for this image, given the context?
  • Explain what aspect of this image provokes an emotion or feeling, how it does it, and what emotion or feeling it provokes.
  • Explain what sort of behavior this image inspires. Does it want you to do something? To believe something? Buy something? Support a cause or organization?  Vote a certain way? Donate money? Become more conscious or aware of a problem?
  • Explain the interpretation that ties the affect or emotion to the desired behavior. What must you believe for the emotion to move you to the behavior?
  • In conclusion, contemplate whether pathetic appeals in the image depend on identity categories of the target audience, such as age, class, ethnicity, sex/gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, political ideology, religious belief, etc.? Are there any ideas or symbols that will likely resonate with a certain segment of this population in a particular way?

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