Short Writing Assignment Four

Image as Argument: Visual Essay with Exposition


For SWA 4, students will create a visual essay. A visual essay tries to communicate ideas through visual text and alphabetic text (words). The balance of the two is up to the

composer. The visual component may be still images or short animations (under 30 seconds); however, this is not a movie. You may also add up to 100 words to any image.

You will need to give this a lot of thought. The selected images should be very significant and organization is critical. The images can be from your own collection and/or from a photo sharing site like flikr or you can use the public domain tools in at Creative Commons. Using your LDK, you will need to provide a Works Cited page for all images as part of your explication essay.

Visual Component

Similar to a standard essay, it will have an introduction, body, and conclusion but done

through the organization of your images. Like any supporting details, the images should all be related to your thesis. The possibilities for subjects are numerous, but they must be focused around a theme in an essay from our McGraw-Hill Reader. For example, you may wish to create a visual essay based on the central ideas of language, names, and cultural identification in Muñoz’s “Leave Your Name at the Border.” Each theme and its corresponding ideas should be submitted for approval before beginning this assignment. This should not solely be concrete images of whatever topic you choose to write about. It mostly should be a visual representation of abstract ideas designed to persuade or motivate.

Visual Design Explication

The writing or Visual Design Explication (VDE) should be an explanation of the thought

process that went into the composition of the essay. For example, you should probably discuss some of SPATER ideas and/or ideas from your McGraw-Hill readings (39-41). It should state your thesis and how the images correspond. Furthermore, it should explain in detail why the images are arranged in this specific sequence and if you add any text the importance of that text.

The explication makes explicit connections between the visual essay and the original text. It should discuss the major theme of the text essay and how the images relate to it.

This means that before you select the pictures you will need to analyze the primary source. You do not want to solely choose pictures based on the concrete images in the essay. The abstract ideas should also be present in your pictures. For example, the essay may mention immigrants. How would you represent the idea of immigration without simply adding a picture of an immigrant? This is the more difficult part of the assignment but, in the long run, it will make the writing part easier since it will take more writing to explain abstract ideas rather than concrete ideas.

The VDE should be 2+ pages in MLA format.

Each VDE should discuss:

· The nature of the pictures as they relate to the ideas of the essay

· The importance of the organization of the visual essay. How does the order represent an organized product? Did you follow the basic requirements of an intro, body, and conclusion?

· The images as images (use of color, subject matter, rhetorical strategies, etc.)

· If images were altered, what were the alterations and why were they made

· What is the best image as it relates to the theme and what is your reasoning behind your choice?

The images used may be your own or you may choose to use photographs/image from any of the following sites. They are copyright free for the most part.

Written Requirements

Image Specifications

Image Types

  • Images may be black and white, color, or mixed
  • You may use image altering software/apps like Photoshop or Picassa to enhance your presentation.
  • Image quality is important and should be of the appropriate pixel count to ensure clarity
  • Images may be re-sized or cropped

Paper Specifications

Page length for the out-of-class revision

  • The draft must be a minimum of 2 pages typed.
  • Drafts that are not 3 pages will not be evaluated and will be given an automatic grade of F (50). Do not try to get around this requirement by making the margins, spacing and font larger. Please also note that this is a minimum length requirement.
  • The Works Cited page is not part of the 2-page minimum.


Format: Margins, Spacing and indentation, Font, Pagination, Heading, Title

  • Same as for all SWA's.

Late penalties

  • Please see the syllabus for late penalties.

Use of 1st and 2nd person pronouns

  • Avoid using “you” at all times. Its use is informal and indefinite.
  • Avoid using “I” as well although this essay may require more than other essays

Works Cited

Works Cited with image citations is required.