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Describe and analyze a work of art, and explain how it reflects aspects of the culture that produced it (such as religious beliefs, social organization, or forms of rulership for example).

Visual Analysis Essay
In this assignment you will compose an essay that demonstrates your ability to use art historical methods and conventions to describe and analyze a work of art, and explain how it reflects aspects of the culture that produced it (such as religious beliefs, social organization, or forms of rulership for example).

Useful Resource: check out this page on Writing Art Historically for a useful guide to writing and art historical Visual Analysis:
Writing Art Historically

Step 1: Select Your Work
Select a work of art that was studied in class. You should certainly choose a work that you like, but make sure you choose a work that you also know a lot about, so that you will have a lot to say about it. If you choose something that we did not spend much time on in class, you will find it difficult to analyze it in depth.

Step 2: Work Identification
Insert your image into your document, and identify it properly, using the following information from the museum label:

Title (note that titles of works of art should be underlined or italicized, like book titles)
Date
Medium
Period/Civilization
Museum Collection

Step 3: Introduction
Begin your essay with a general introduction that identifies the work, and places it in its cultural and historical context. Your reader will need to know something about the works cultural backstory in order to fully understand it. Your introduction should also include a general thesis about how the work reflects aspects of the society that made it.

Step 4: Description and Analysis
The body of your essay should focus on a description and analysis of the work. Using what you learned from the tutorial on The Skill of Describing, your description should be vivid and detailed, and should be guided by a sense of purpose or opinion about the work (i.e. a thesis): what are you trying to show your reader about the work? Your analysis should also demonstrate your knowledge about the stylistic characteristics and techniques that were common in the period/civilization the work belongs to.

Step 5: Contextual Analysis
Your contextual analysis should examine the specific ways in which the work you analyzed relates to its cultural and historical context. This is where you will relate the specific work you analyzed to the cultural backstory that you discussed in the introduction.

General Guidelines

Format 3-4 pages, typed and double-spaced
College level writing College-level writing skills are expected. Your assignments should be thoughtfully organized, with a clear thesis, and coherently developed ideas
Plagiarism/paraphrasing Your essay should be written entirely in your own words (i.e. do not simply paraphrase source material).


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