Research Essay- Critical Thinking- Photo Analysis Option

Topic- Photo Analysis using Research

In this essay, you are going to explore an idea that you have about a historically significant photograph. You are going to look closely at the photo through the lens of your idea and you will use both your research and textual evidence from the photo to support your idea. Your idea could start with a question that you have about the story, such as “What was the inspiration for this photo?” The idea may also be one that you have thought of as you studied the photo or thought of as we discussed the photo in class, such as: “ The photograph, Migrant Mother, taken by Dorothea Lange, was instrumental in raising awareness about displaced migrant farm workers during the Great Depression.” You could also choose to look at a specific question or idea that you have about the connection between the photographer and his or photograph. For example, after reading about photographer Nick Ut’s rescue of Phan Thi Kim Phuc after taking his famous photo Napalm Girl, one might ask how Ut’s role in saving Phuc’s life impacted his decision to have the photo published and/or one might argue about Napalm Girl, “Nick Ut’s famous photograph, Napalm Girl, though controversial, was instrumental in ending the Vietnam War.” You could also choose to look at a historically significant photograph through the lens of setting, history, psychology, feminism, etc.  Your idea about the work will become your thesis statement and then you must support the thesis clearly with evidence from research, textual evidence from the work itself, and you must provide analysis, your detailed thoughts connecting your thesis with your evidence.  You may choose one of the photos from the “Visual Rhetoric” chapter of Current Issues and Enduring Questions or you may choose one that is not in the book. The photo needs to have been published and has to have historical significance.

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Essay Structure

     As with the other essays, you must use standard essay structure with a clear introduction and thesis in your first paragraph and a clear topic sentence, supporting evidence, and analysis in each body paragraph. You must have a clear conclusion in which you bring up no new points or any new evidence, but offer instead closure and a sense of satisfaction for the reader that you have sufficiently refocused on your main point (your thesis) and given them a sense of completion to the issue that you raised. Again, you must have a clear “big idea” for your essay that governs the entire discussion. This is not a report on the photo or the photographer but your well- argued and explained analysis of the work.  In the introduction, you must state the title of the photo and give the photographer’s full name and state where the photo was originally published.  Then briefly summarize the photo and transition to your thesis statement. You will need approximately 3-4 sentences to summarize the work and approximately 1-3 sentences to transition to the thesis and your thesis is, as usual, one sentence. Again, each body paragraph must have a topic sentence, which will be a smaller idea that supports your big idea, possibly a reason that supports your thesis or an aspect of the larger idea. For example, if you argue that “The  Boston Photographs” were significant raising requirements for fire safety,  one topic sentence could focus on one aspect of those increased fire safety requirements such as that due to this photo, apartment houses have become more safe. Then, as with the other essays, your evidence about the enhanced awareness of and new requirements for apartment house fire safety would go in that paragraph. Remember when you are quoting to set up your quote. By this, I mean don’t simply drop your quote onto the page. Explain its significance to the argument in a sentence or two and indicate to whom this quote is attributed. For example:  According to Dr. Adam Hansen, professor at University of California, Davis, well known for his ground breaking research on victims of Dust Bowl, for those without financial resources or family support who migrated from the Mid-West to California during the Dust Bowl, many of these migrants were met with hostility by a significant numbers of California citizens.  “John Steinbeck got this right in The Grapes of Wrath. Many of these migrants were met at the borders of California with angry residents who told them to turn around and go back.” (Cite Source) In this way, the reader is more able to make the connection between your topic sentences and your evidence.  In addition, because you will need more time and space to develop your ideas and include your research, this essay should be five to seven pages in length. Again, this essay is primarily based on your ideas, your writing, and supported by your research. It should not be compilation of facts and quotes with no central idea.

Using a highlighter, please highlight your thesis statement and each topic sentence. In addition, for this essay, using a different color highlighter, highlight your addressing of the opposition in the body of your paper.


Sentence Structure

You should use correct sentence structure and grammar.


Sources Citations

You are required to use at least three outside sources for this essay. Each of these sources should be academic sources and should be cited correctly MLA style both parenthetically and in a Works Cited page. It can also be enormously helpful to visit the library and consult with a librarian about his/her ideas for sources about your topic. As all of the works that you will be working with well-known photos, the library may have excellent print resources about these photos.





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