Visual Analysis Assignment

Original Man comic book by Alonzo Washington


For this assignment, students will examine Rose Library materials to select an image with which to complete a detailed analysis of the visual rhetoric of that image. They will select a concept or issue that they feel the image represents to develop their argument.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this assignment, students will be able to

  • conduct archival research
  • read library catalogue and finding aid information
  • practice appropriate care and handling of archival materials
  • develop an analytical argument based on primary source research, emphasizing analytical, rhetorical, and critical thinking skills

Preparation for Session

In order to make the most of your time during your Rose Library Session, please be sure to prepare your students in advance.

  • Instructor should provide a clear goal of what students should accomplish during rotations
  • Prior to the session, students should understand what they are looking for while examining the materials
  • Students should have a clear sense of what they need to know about an object to complete the assignment successfully


Here’s what you can expect during your class session

  • Introduction to the Rose Library (if this is the first class visit)
  • Introduction to the materials in use
  • Care and handling instructions
  • Speed dating session format

Final Products

For this assignment, students will write an essay of approximately 4 pages.

Instructors may choose to assign blog posts or other low stakes assignments as scaffolding in preparation for writing their essay. For example, have students write detailed observations of their selected image in list format without forming an argument.

Instructors are encouraged to have students compose a reflection essay about the experience of using archival materials in this composition.

Recommended Collections

Any collection, or combination of materials from different collections, can be used for this assignment. The focus of the course will determine what materials will be most appropriate. Please consult with Rose Library Staff to determine what collections and materials might be most relevant for your class.

Some sample recommendatons are:


 This assignment works best when students have opportunities to practice visual analysis in class. Before bringing students for their Rose Library session, instructors should spend time in class guiding students through the process of analyzing an image. Consider using a worksheet during the Rose Library Session to help students focus on important details.


To cite this page:

Early, Shanna. "Visual Analysis Assignment," Rose Library Teaching with Archives Portal, [date of access],

Please cite this portal and give credit to the creator when using this assignment.