Sample Essay Examination Assignment
Print a hard copy for yourself to have in class (very important!) and email a copy to Lisa (yourlastname_essayexam.doc)…
Read the attached sample visual analysis essay. Outline this six paragraph essay by doing the following (You can use a bulleted list format but all your responses should be written in full sentences):
1. For Paragraph #1
a. Identify the essay’s thesis including:
i. The claim (the author’s interpretation of the work’s expressive meaning).
ii. The argument (the specific features of the work and their effect that the author cites to support the claim).
b. Besides presenting the thesis what other things are included in the introductory paragraph? As the reader, what else do you think might be added?
For each Paragraph 2-6:
a. Name the topic of the paragraph (don’t just repeat the author’s sentences).
b. Identify and summarize the points within the paragraph that support/ exemplify the claim contained in the topic.
c. Comment about the effectiveness of each paragraph:
i. What do you find effective and ineffective? Explain.
ii. Which is your favorite and least favorite sentence? Explain.
What role does the summary paragraph play in this essay? (for PP 6
Read two other sample essays Essay Sample
# 2 and Essay
Sample #3. and comment as to
how they in general differ from the first sample and note what you the pros
and cons of these different approaches are.
Visual Analysis of Sandra Raynor’s “Unspoken”
By Jessica Porter and edited by Lisa Scheer
Sandy Raynor, Unspoken, 8 x10 inches, black and white photograph
PP1. The black and white photograph “Unspoken” by Sandra Raynor tells the story of a young woman in isolation from the world around her. But the artist leaves it up to the viewer to decide the nature of her internment. We must wonder if her imprisonment is literal or emotional. Is it self-imposed, a result of alienation or withdrawal into grief or has she been rejected and segregated, placed there due to the actions and attitudes of others? The artist gives us many cues throughout the work including but not limited to the expressive body language and posture of the young woman, the clearly divided space of the composition, narrative elements such as the fleeting figure in the background or the iron bars in the middle ground, and the title itself. All these elements combine to create a powerful image of anguish and emotional withdrawal that is immediately familiar to anyone who has suffered the pain of separation.
PP2. The mood of introverted distress is primarily communicated through the young woman’s facial expression and her body language. This main character fills the majority of the eight by ten inch photograph. Her body position creates a fortress that separates her from her surroundings. Her knees are pulled tight against her chest and her elbows are drawn inward. She huddles in a corner with her face turn downward almost hidden by her thick cascading hair. Her downcast eyes appear closed as if focusing on something deep inside rather than on external circumstances. She grasps her head with her hands in a way that suggests her pain is almost physical.
PP3. This feeling of emotional withdrawal is enhanced by the passive, non-interactive relationship between the various elements of the scene. The young woman does not acknowledge the photographer or viewer’s presence in any way even though we are seeing her from close range. It is as if we are observing her with a binoculars from a far off place, invading a private moment both uninvited and unacknowledged. The only other character in the photograph, a blurred male figure in the background, also fails to connect with the young woman or with us.
PP4. This impenetrable divide between people is maximized by the separation of the picture into two spaces, a foreground and a background. Compositionally the bars function as a divider between these two distinct and distant spaces. Beyond the bars the background is blurred making visible the idea of an insurmountable distance between the girl and her surrounding world. The ghostly background figure haunts her but fails to materialize and end her isolation. Both division and obscurity suggest that these two characters might have once shared a relationship (if not a space) but now, something tragically keeps them apart, unable to breach the emotional or physical distance separating them.
PP5. The narrative implications of the iron bars that divide the image are unmistakable. They clearly reference imprisonment and isolation but is unclear as to whether the containment is self-imposed as a way of keeping others out, or externally imposed as a form of captivity.On one hand the conditions of her captivity do not read as forced; her expression is one of internal turmoil not directed outwardly to an external threat. And because there is nothing in the photograph that refers to actual prison conditions one tends to interpret the bars as a metaphor for some sort of internal emotion state of thralldom rather than a literal condition. But what she is captive to is unclear. She might be a prisoner of her own alienation and pain or possibly a prisoner to her need and desire for the other that is beyond her reach.
PP6. The title Unspoken also effects the way we interpret this story. If we assume that the young woman’s anguish is somehow related to the ghostly male figure in the background then the narrative is about a dissolved relationship. After all, with minimal elements in the photograph to begin with, the male figure with his back turned to the scene and walking away from the young woman, no matter how ghostly, holds our attention. Might Unspoken indicate a failure to communicate, an absence of emotional exchange and connection? Sandra Raynor does not give us concrete answers to these questions but instead keeps active all these possible interpretations allowing the viewer to find their own empathetic response her visual story.
Summary of Essay Features
Introductory Paragraph must:
Introduce the work
Š Descriptions and characterizations that help us visualize the work in the way the author is interpreting it.
Š Artwork information (title, artist, medium, size, context. Etc.)
Draw the reader in
Š Comments that draw the reader in making them want to read on, getting them in the right frame of mind to better grasp the claim being made.
State the thesis
Š Any assumptions, information, ideas that lay the groundwork for comprehending the thesis
The thesis itself which includes BOTH a claim and brief outline of
the argument (what in the work will be discussed to support/ prove the claim.
Each of the following paragraphs must:
Begin with a topic sentence that states a single aspect of the argument and its relationship to the overall thesis and says how that relates to the overall thesis.
Fully support the claim made in the topic sentence by citing specific features of the work and effectively explaining why and how they create the effect named in the topic sentence.