In-process draft due for peer feedback: October 1 – in discussion boards on iCollege

Final version due: October 3, 10 pm

Ben McCorkle’s annotation of Fairey’s Hope poster


This assignment offers a preliminary chance to

  • Analyze the visual elements of an image
  • Apply terminology and concepts from our readings on visual rhetoric as well as our lexicons
  • Explain how images communicate meaning, and
  • Gain some expertise in digital technologies through which you will create and deliver your own image annotation, which will be modeled after Ben McCorkle’s “The Annotated Obama Poster.”

Choosing an image

For this assignment you are asked to choose an image that falls into one of the following categories.

  • Political poster/sign/image (campaign, protest, etc. Remember it is visual rhetoric, so choice should have multiple elements and text should be limited)
  • Street art/graffiti
  • Still advertisement (no commercials)

We use these categories because they are explicitly socio-cultural, current, and tend to be rich in image and text. Some images will lend themselves better to analysis than others. When choosing your image, select something that has depth and complex elements that you can analyze deeply. Additionally, you will need to produce or find a high quality digital picture of the image you wish to analyze, so if you need to photograph something and are concerned about quality, please remember you can check out equipment from several places on campus.

Assignment Description

After selecting an image, you will fully annotate it by identifying and rhetorically analyzing six visual elements, similar to McCorkle’s analysis. I suggest that you begin with a printed version of your image and circle six distinct sections that correspond to the element you are choosing to analyze. Remember that when you shift into your digital version, you can blow up your image to telescope in on each element you are investigating.

For each circled element, write a 1-2 paragraph explanation and analysis of how that particular component of the image contributes to the meaning of the image as a whole. Don’t forget to consider Barthes’ four messages: denotive, symbolic, iconic, and textual, especially when considering the elements individually and as a group. Again, refer back to McCorkle and the other readings we have entertained as you consider your analysis.

Also, when choosing your six visual elements, I encourage you to consider certain steps of analysis: freewrite your ideas and place the image in context; practice some of the analysis strategies we have tried in class. Use terminology from our lexicon, theoretical ideas from Berger and Sturken & Cartwright, and some of the principles of design and visual meaning-making. Consider the metaphor and symbols of your images, how each element works individually and as a group; remember white space, clutter, color, arrangement, and context.

Delivering the analysis

I. On your website, under the “Image Annotation” page, write a summary of the image, where it comes from, why you chose it, and what rhetorical theories you will be using to ground your analysis. Underneath, embed or add a hyperlink to your prezi analysis. Below this, include a Works Cited section in standard MLA 8.

II. In your FREE Prezi account (please don’t pay for it!), create a Prezi using your chose image as the background. Then, connect the six points of analysis you have chosen to explore. Each link should include multimodal information (additional imagery, relevant links, etc.) and your written text for that element. The end result should be a multimodal essay that offers a path through the overall image.

III. Once you are done, complete a submission form and include the assignment URL. Submit the form to your assignment box by the submission date.*This assignment adapted from ideas forwarded by Dr. Ashley Holmes