Unit 2 Assignments

Unit 2: Image as Argument

An image is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. Although visuals may not always be considered “writing” and are often siloed away from rhetoric and composition courses into the departments of communication, art, and design, images are composed and create some of the most effective arguments. What makes image and visual so powerful is that they evoke both conscious and unconscious associations, implicitly move and persuade viewers, and provide empirical evidence to support a claim or represent a viewpoint. Of course, images can also be altered, distorted, and manipulated to privilege or obscure other perspectives. 

In this unit, we will use image and text to respond to “rhetorical problems,” or circumstances that invite responses. Potential final visual arguments may include posters, infographics, visual essays, comics/cartoons, or slideshow presentations, but all must include images as well as text*and include reasons and evidence to support a claim. To help you prepare, the Invention Writing assignment calls on you to conduct a rhetorical analysis of three examples of a visual medium of your choosing. Following this analysis phase, you will create your own Visual Argument Piece. To complete your visual argument, you will identify a rhetorical issue, conduct research to identify stakeholders, your position, and the points of argument; and respond using a visual medium of your choosing.

Comic titled "The Neurobiology of Writing." First panel represents a linear writing process with a picture of a woman typing. The second panel represents the anxiety of writing with an image of a woman sweating and biting her nails in anxiety.
From PhDComics: This comic makes an argument about the assumption of a linear writing process and the reality of a nonlinear writing process based in anxiety. But, the writing process is not linear and doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing!

Invention Writing Prompt: Analyzing a Visual Argument

For the Invention Writing assignment, you will conduct a rhetorical analysis of the visual medium you hope to employ for the Writing Project. Just as news reports had dos and don’ts, or genre conventions, there are specific expectations for visual mediums. That is, before you can create a poster, infographic, or comic, you must learn the conventions of the medium. To gain that knowledge, you will find three examples of the visual medium and analyze them to understand what makes a rhetorically effective version of that medium. 

This Invention Writing is considered complete if the IW

  • includes descriptions and links to or images of three examples of a single visual medium,
  • identifies similarities and differences among the examples,
  • provides an overall analysis of the conventions of the visual medium based on the examples, 
  • is 750 words, and 
  • is submitted on time.

October 10—Invention Writing due to WordPress site; use “Visual Argument Analyses” category

Writing Project Prompt: Crafting a Visual Argument

The Writing Project for this unit calls on you to craft a Visual Argument Piece that uses both image and text to identify a rhetorical issue and intervene in the issue with an argument for a particular audience. Rhetorical issues can be based on a specific events or on everyday life occurrences. Your Visual Argument Piece will intervene in the issue by addressing a specific audience—while recognizing additional stakeholders—to promote some sort of action. Remember, though, that arguments can be more nuanced and diverse than persuasive essays with a thesis statement and three supporting reasons. You do not necessarily need to provide a solution to the issue, persuade your audience to take a specific action, or argue against opposing viewpoints. Rather, you should seek to move your audience toward a new understanding of the rhetorical issue and potential action based on this new understanding. Your Visual Argument Piece, then, does not need to be a five paragraph argumentative essay with images, but it should include some sort of claim, reasons, and evidence to support that claim.

Your Visual Argument Piece should

  • include both image (can be sourced images) and text,
  • identify a rhetorical issue,
  • engage a specific audience while recognizing a variety of stakeholders,
  • develop a new understanding of an existing rhetorical issue,
  • include a claim, reasons, and supporting evidence, and
  • follow the conventions of your chosen medium.

Visual Argument Pieces may take the form of posters, infographics, visual essays, comics/cartoons, slideshow presentations, etc. The length, tone, and balance of image and text of your piece will be determined by the medium and intended audience. Depending on the form and your preference, final versions can be submitted to D2L as .doc, .docx, .pdf, or .jpg files and/or posted to the course website.

October 29—First draft due to D2L discussion board

November 5—Revised draft due to D2L submission portal and/or posted to WordPress site

November 12—Instructor feedback returned

November 21—Self-evaluation and reflection due to D2L submission portal

* We will focus on static images during this unit. However, if you are interested in creating a short film, we can discuss that. You will have the explicit opportunity to create a short film for the final unit of this course.

Maker’s Memo Prompt

Your Maker’s Memo will serve as the introduction to your Visual Argument Piece and should provide a narrative summary of the choices you made throughout the researching, composing, and revising process. The goal of the Maker’s Memo is to document and make explicit the work that went into your project.

Comic with two pie charts. First is titled "doing research" and shows 90% hard work and 10% results. The second chart is "writing about research" and says 90% writing about the results and 10% writing about how you did it
The Maker’s Memo flips the emphasis between “doing” and “writing” shown in this comic. The goal of the Maker’s Memo is to show all the hard work that went into your Visual Argument Piece and to write about how you came to the final result.

Your Maker’s Memo should address the following:

  • What you tried to accomplish in your Visual Argument Piece
    • How you defined your rhetorical issue and developed a unique perspective on that issue
    • How your chosen visual medium, topic, and audience are connected
    • How you composed in the genre conventions of your chosen medium
  • How you designed your Visual Argument Piece
    • Document your design choices (use chapters 7 and 14 of Becoming Rhetorical) and how they connect to your topic and audience
    • Discuss the material conditions of your chosen design tool
      • Identify the digital tool that you used for creating your visual argument and why you chose it
      • Make sure to discuss the limitations of your design tool and how you navigated those limitations
  • The choices you made in revision
    • Make specific references to places in the text that you revised and describe your choice for making such a revision
    • Reference feedback from peer reviewers and myself
    • If you chose not to make changes based on feedback, you must indicate why
  • What you learned about writing, making arguments with visuals, and how visuals and design make implicit arguments.

Revision Checklist

  • Did you review the assignment prompt and the rubric?
  • Does your Maker’s Memo address all of the above?
  • Do you develop a visual argument that includes a claim, reasons, and evidence?
  • Do you include references within your Visual Argument Piece?

Submission Instructions

You have two options for submitting your Visual Argument Piece.

  1. Submit to the D2L submission portal titled “WP 2: Visual Argument Piece.” File types might include .docx, .doc, .pdf, .jpeg, .ppx, .key, etc or maybe a .zip file, but do NOT submit a Pages file.
  2. Post to the course website using the “Visual Argument Pieces” category. You may either upload the content directly to the “Media Library” to integrate it into the post or embed the file using a “Custom HTML” block. **If you have questions about how to do this, please ask me!!

Either way, make sure to include your Maker’s Memo. If you are posting to the website, you can include it before the Visual Argument Piece or submit it separately as a .docx or .doc file to the D2L submission portal.