ENGL 1302 Visual Analysis Essay

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ENGL 1302 Visual Analysis Essay

Assignment & Purpose

Write an essay that analyzes the rhetoric of visual arguments. Visual arguments include advertisements, political cartoons, paintings, films, websites, and other visual media, such as internet memes. For this assignment, you will need to choose an internet meme that includes interesting, complex images and present an argument that explains your interpretation of the underlying meaning of the meme.  Your overall goal in this paper is to construct and support a thesis that evaluates the quality of the arguments being made in your pieces of visual rhetoric. In order to do this, your paper should place the visual arguments in a social or cultural context for your intended readers. Most importantly though, make sure that you are going beyond merely explaining the obvious in the imagery, but instead analyzing and interpreting repetitions, strands, binaries, and/or an anomaly and answering the so what question (why does your analysis matter?).


The purpose of this assignment is to help you practice the basics of analysis in a creative way by exploring images which exhibit complexity and rhetorical purpose. In writing this essay, you will be more aware of the cultural, social, and political influences of visual sources. This assignment, ideally, will allow you to explore the implications of visuals through design, symbolism, cultural implications, social critique, etc.


For this assignment, you will either choose or create a social media type meme to analyze based on its visual characteristics.

  • The paper must be in standard MLA format (Make sure to use the MLA Format document on Canvas)
  • 4-6 pages excluding Works Cited (1,000 – 1,500 words)
  • MUST include a Works Cited page in order to be graded

Course Student Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate critical thinking standards as they engage in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of visual sources in order to explore patterns and contradictions among images and present the complexity of multiple interpretations and implications.
  • Write in a style that clearly communicates meaning, builds credibility, and offers fresh insights.

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