Visual Analysis Assignment


For this assignment, students will examine Rose Library materials to select an image with which to complete a detailed analysis of the visual rhetoric of that image. They will select a concept or issue that they feel the image represents to develop their argument.

    After completing this assignment, students will be able to

    • conduct archival research
    • read library catalogue and finding aid information
    • practice appropriate care and handling of archival materials
    • develop an analytical argument based on primary source research, emphasizing analytical, rhetorical, and critical thinking skills

    In order to make the most of your time during your Rose Library Session, please be sure to prepare your students in advance.

    • Instructor should provide a clear goal of what students should accomplish during rotations
    • Prior to the session, students should understand what they are looking for while examining the materials
    • Students should have a clear sense of what they need to know about an object to complete the assignment successfully

    Here’s what you can expect during your class session

    • Introduction to the Rose Library (if this is the first class visit)
    • Introduction to the materials in use
    • Care and handling instructions
    • Speed dating session format

    For this assignment, students will write an essay of approximately 4 pages.

    Instructors may choose to assign blog posts or other low stakes assignments as scaffolding in preparation for writing their essay. For example, have students write detailed observations of their selected image in list format without forming an argument.

    Instructors are encouraged to have students compose a reflection essay about the experience of using archival materials in this composition.

    Any collection, or combination of materials from different collections, can be used for this assignment. The focus of the course will determine what materials will be most appropriate. Please consult with Rose Library Staff to determine what collections and materials might be most relevant for your class.

    Some sample recommendatons are:

    • Photography collections, such as the Langmuir Collection, are particularly well suited.
    • Journals, magazines, newspapers, Yellowbacks, selected book covers, artists’ books, comic books, broadsides, etc. would all work very well with this assignment.

    This assignment works best when students have opportunities to practice visual analysis in class. Before bringing students for their Rose Library session, instructors should spend time in class guiding students through the process of analyzing an image. Consider using a worksheet during the Rose Library Session to help students focus on important details.

    To cite this page:

    Early, Shanna. "Visual Analysis Assignment," Rose Library Teaching with Archives Portal, [date of access],

    Please cite this portal and give credit to the creator when using this assignment.


    Shanna Early
    PhD candidate in the Department of English at Emory

    Use In
    ENG 101 Expository Writing: Composition and Comics
    Intensive writing course fulfilling first-year writing requirement, with a focus on multi-modal and multi-genre composition and rhetorical skills. Comic books and graphic narrative were the topic of this particular class.

    This assignment is highly flexible, suitable for 100-level classes focused on rhetoric, visual culture, or art.

    • Highly adaptable and can work with any course theme
    • Students will not need to return to their reading room to spend more time with their materials

    Highlighted Materials
    The African-American Comics Collection

    Course Materials
    Printable Assignment Sheet