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2.1.5: Activities

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    Personal Photo Analysis

    For this activity, find a photograph (digital or printed) that has some sort of emotional gravity for you: it could be a picture of a loved one, a treasured memory, a favorite place, anything that makes you feel something.

    On a clean sheet of paper, free-write about the photo in response to the following prompts for three minutes each:

    1) Describe the photograph as a whole. What's happening? Who is in it? Use vivid description to capture the photo in writing as best as you can.

    2) Zoom in on one element of the photo- one color, shape, object, person, etc. How does this part relate to the greater whole?

    3) Zoom out and describe what's not shown in the photo. What's happening just out of frame? What's happening just before, just after? What are the emotions you associate with this moment?

    Now, trade photos with a friend or classmate who's also working on this activity. Repeat the same free-write prompts and compare your responses. What do the differences indicate about the interpretive process? About context? About the position of the reader and the limitations on the author (photographer)?

    Unpacking Advertisements: Analyzing Visual Rhetoric

    One of the most common forms of visual rhetoric we encounter on a daily basis are advertisements; indeed, advertisements are more and more prominent with the growth of technology, and increasingly tailored to the target audience. The ads we encounter often blend language, images, sounds, and video to achieved their intended purpose- to convince you to buy something.

    To practice analysis, you can close read an advertisement or advertising campaign.

    1) Choose a brand product, or corporation that you find interesting. One that I've found especially engaging is Levi's 2009 "Go Forth" advertising campaign.61

    2) Try to identify the subject, occasion,audience, and purpose of the advertisement. Often, there is an obvious or declared answer for each of these (the subject of the Levi's campaign is "Levi's jeans" and the purpose is "to make you buy Levi's jeans"), but there are also more subtle answers (the subject is also "American millennial empowerment" and the purpose is also "create a youthful, labor-oriented brand").

    3) Identify what parts of the advertisement contribute to the whole: what colors, shapes, words, images, associations, etc., does the ad play on in order to achieve its purpose? Do you notice symbols, patterns, or references?

    4) Interpret the observations you collected in number three. How do the parts contribute to the whole? What might you overlook if you weren't paying close enough attention?

    Radical Noticing Promenade

    This exercise encourages you to focus on details, rather than the big picture, as a way to better understand the big picture. You will need a notebook and a camera. (if you have a cell phone with a camera, it will do the trick.)

    Take about twenty minutes to wander around an area that you often spend time in: your house, your neighborhood, the halls of your school, etc. Walk slowly and aimlessly; this exercise works best when you don't have a destination in mind.

    As you wander, look around you and focus on small details- a piece of garbage on the sidewalk, the color of that guy's shoes, the sound of a leaf blower in the distance. Record (using your camera, notebook, or both) these small details. When you return to your desk, choose three of these details to meditate on. Using descriptive writing (see Chapter One), spend a few minutes exploring these details in writing. Then consider what they might reflect about the place where you promenaded- the piece of garbage might indicate what neighborhood is well maintained but not pristine; the leaf blower might reflect a suburban American commitment to both manicured lawns and convenience.

    Poem Explication62

    Practice analyzing a text using your choice of one of the following poems. First, read a poem through once silently and once aloud. Then read the poem again, this time annotating words and phrases that strike you. Look for patterns (and breaks in patterns) in language, rhyme, meter, and form. Look for potential symbolism, concrete objects that seems to suggest something more abstract. Look for references, connections to other texts you know. You can also consider whether the poem speaks to any analytical lenses and how it compares to your experiences.

    Next, develop several questions that the poem rises. What is ambiguous about the content or language? What might it suggest about our lives, our society?

    Finally, synthesize your observations and questions into a brief essay driven by a thesis statement. Use specific parts of the text to support your insight.

    Drag the River63 by Ryan Mills

    Reproduced with permission from the author. Originally published online and available via 1001 Journal

    On our way to the river

    the gist of American storytelling

    dragged along like a dog

    leashed to the back of the car.

    I had to pull over.

    You said, "I hope

    We switched seats.

    Parked at milepost 6, the grease fire night

    pulled the river toward the delta.

    The water ran low;

    the trees performed their shakes.

    We removed our hats then went down to the banks.

    Richard Cory64

    Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

    We people on the pavement looked at him:

    He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

    Clean favored, and imperially slim.

    And he was always quietly arrayed,

    And he was always human when he talked;

    But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

    "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

    And he was rich-yes, richer than a king-

    And admirably schooled in every grace:

    In fine, we thought that he was everything

    To make us wish that we were in his place.

    So on we worked, and waited for the light,

    And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

    And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

    Went home and put a bullet through his head.

    This page titled 2.1.5: Activities is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Shane Abrams (PDXOpen publishing initiative) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.

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