How to Analyze Essay

448 WordsApr 23, 20132 Pages
ANALYZING VISUAL IMAGES and PRIMARY DOCUMENTS IN HISTORY Primary sources are any written, spoken, or visual material created at the time being studied. In this class we will draw upon a different kind of primary source EACH WEEK: newspaper stories, interviews, photographs, commercial and political advertisements, oral history, motion pictures, etc. We will also analyze many primary sources in lecture to illustrate larger points. Primary sources should never be taken as “reality” but must always be analyzed in their historical context. Your textbook will help provide the context. To deepen your analysis of primary sources, see below: A. For every primary source document, keep these questions in mind. 1. Who created the document and why? Was it created: through a spur-of-the-moment act, a routine transaction, or a thoughtful, deliberate process with some particular goal? 2. Did the recorder have firsthand knowledge of the situation or report what others saw or heard? 3. Was the document written during or after (how long after?) the situation to which it refers? 4. What might have been the recorder’s opinions or interests that could have influenced what was recorded? 5. What was the writer’s goal in writing the document? 6. Was the document meant to be public or private? Was it produced for personal use, for one or more individuals, or for a large audience? In other words, who was the intended audience? * * * * * * B. For commercial or political advertisements, keep these questions in mind. 1. What is the direct purpose of the advertisement? 2. What metaphors, associations, psychological appeals are present in the ad? 3. How are people and things positioned to convey certain messages? Look particularly at social representations dealing with gender, race, ethnicity, age, region, appearance. 4. To whom may it have been designed to appeal?

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