Length: 4 pages (including 1-2 relevant images), typed/double-spaced
MLA format: Times New Roman 12 point font, 1 inch margins, works cited page
Description, Purpose, and Relevance
Analysis asks us to look not only at what a text says, or the meaning of the text, but also at how that meaning is created in the text. For this assignment, the text that you will be analyzing will be a real place (room, home) from your past in order to show how it has contributed to the shaping of your identity today. The I-Search approach requires the student to do independent, personal research, taking responsibility for both the process and the product.
As new members of the academic community, I want you to start by dwelling on who you are and how you perceive yourselves. This exercise will inevitably lead you to dwell upon your past and how you came to be the way you are. In that reflective journey, I would like you to pause when you arrive at a specific place that was meaningful to you and that has affected you or shaped you/your thinking. Re-visit this place and instead of describing it to your audience (your classmates and myself), break it up into its individual parts and analyze how those parts worked together to create the effect the place has had on you. For instance, you could focus on its location, layout/structure, contents, color, lighting etc. to show their rhetorical aim and appeal.
While the purpose of the assignment is to conduct visual analysis, its process will be that of the I Search paper (as in you are conducting the search and searching for your own self). The essay will start with a narrative about how you perceive yourself today (maybe recall an incident or experience which has made you question an aspect of your identity). This will help establish why you are interested in conducting this search of a real place that has been significant to your development. It will then lead into the story of your research: the different steps that you went through in order to gather information on this place. This research can include an interview with family members, but will mostly depend on observation and analysis of images of your home. It will also explain any challenges, dead ends, issues that you encountered in the process of this search. This part will be followed by an analysis of the place itself: colors, layout, location, structure etc.; your analysis will demonstrate your understanding of visual rhetoric or how objects/images/places convey meaning. Following the story of the research and the analysis, you will reflect on your findings- both the answers that you found and the questions that still remain.
In keeping with the AGSC guidelines, the assignment aims at enabling you to respond to various rhetorical situations, develop skills of critical thinking and analysis by engaging in primary research, engage thoroughly in the processes of writing, demonstrate your knowledge of conventions, and most importantly, learn to explore writing as a means of self-discovery and communication. Ultimately, however, the purpose of the assignment is more than just academic exercise; it is an attempt to make you more critically aware of your own selves and the spaces that you inhabit. It is also an attempt to enable you to formulate and empower your voices as you step into the new place/context of the university.
(1) Reflection and narration: Start out by reflecting on your own self at present, and then retrace your steps to a specific place in the past that has influenced you the most. As you retrace your steps, take notes on the process: what led you to choose this home/place, how are you planning on gathering information about this place/text, will you revisit or look at old pictures or interview others, and what you are hoping to learn. Take notes throughout as you record the story of your research in order to show its authenticity. Once you have narrated this part of the essay, you will proceed to the visual analysis of the place.
(2) Critical re-reading and analysis: Choose the text/place that has had the most influence on your thinking/self and reread the text critically. If possible, re-visit the place or collect specific photographs (you can actually submit the pictures too by embedding them in your essay or attaching them separately). Just as in print text, during the first reading you get a sense of the texts meaning and the experience of the text, or how it attempted to persuade you. The second reading is where writing actually begins to take place. Take extensive notes on the text, its parts/components, what the text is attempting to convey, to whom, how, and why it is effective/relevant.
(3) Evaluation: Following the analysis, you will evaluate your findings (what you learned about the place/text, what you learned about your own self), and reflect on what you have realized and/or what more is left to be explored.
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