THE PERSUASIVE VISUAL ESSAY


In this activity students will create a persuasive pictorial essay to support or protest a point of view on a topic of importance or interest to them. Many of the political, governmental, and societal issues that were part of the fabric of the nation during Ebenezer D. Bassett’s life are still a part of our lives today. As we review current events issues, keep in mind that many of the ideas, trends, and situations we discuss have historical precedents in our history. Watch the news, read the paper, talk to your classmates. Compare and contrast current events with the events that affected Ebenezer D. Bassett’s life. Situations confronting us today, their relationships and roots to past philosophical, religious, political, and economic events, and our responses to them make the past relevant to the present. Many times we can understand the present more clearly by understanding the past. We in the 21st Century are still grappling with issues such as civil rights, equality, the meaning of freedom and how far it should extend, our nation’s role in world affairs, the economy, and the interpretation of the American Dream. These and other issues affected Ebenezer D. Bassett’s world as they continue to affect our own.

YOUR TASK: Take a position on an issue that you feel strongly about. Research the issue through a variety of sources such as the Internet, newspapers, magazines, etc. Your goal is to utilize images to create a persuasive pictorial essay. You may choose from a variety of visual delivery methods to present your essay including PowerPoint presentation, a poster, collage, mobile, or you may choose to create a political cartoon.

CHOOSING IMAGES: A pictorial essay is an image or combination of images and captions that can be very powerful in expressing and supporting a point of view. Your goal is to take a position on a topic, support your position, and make a powerful visual impact on the viewer. If you choose to do this through a collage or PowerPoint, you need to present a complete picture of the issue, including its causes, its effects, its seriousness, etc.—so you need to use images that show different aspects of the situation. Search for striking visual images in a variety of formats—new publications, magazines, political cartoons, the Internet, or you can create your own. Use a chart like the one below to help you classify and ultimately choose and arrange your images in poster format.

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ORGANIZING YOUR IMAGES: The organization of your images is an important way to reinforce your message and help the viewer understand the message you want to convey. Here are some tips:
  • Carefully choose your first and last images for overall impact and the strength of the message.
  • Consider whether you want to organize your images in chronological order/in contrasting situations/in comparable situations, etc.

WRITING CAPTIONS: You will need to write captions using a few words for your images to explain how each image supports your position. Here are some questions to ask:
  • Do your captions present a strong clear description/message of the image? (Will your audience see exactly what your position is?)
  • Do all your images work together to illustrate your position?
  • Do your captions communicate your message and position?

RUBRIC