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MDSB62H3: Visual Culture and Communication

This library guide will assist you in finding the resources that you need in order to complete the assignments for courses in MDSB62H3, including the annotated bibliography and the visual essay.

Visual Essays

What is a Visual Essay?

Usually, a sequence of images (photos or otherwise) which you have found or have created yourself. 

It typically consists of a a critical commentary of a defined topic. It is similar to a traditional essay in that you are presenting an argument, discussion, or explanation of a defined topic that you have chosen. Additional topic information can be found in the assignment handout. 

How to visual essays work? 

Just like with traditional papers, visual essays are "read," meaning that they are planned and ordered. The University of Hertfordshire's guide on the Visual Essay suggests that their effectiveness can be impacted by the following elements:

  • the sequence of images and how they relate to each other
  • the juxtaposition of one to the next and how it stands in a series
  • the layout of the page in which the image(s) is placed, and the layout of following and preceding pages
  • captions, including brief analyses, quotations, key words, provocative questions or statements;
  • text integrated within the image or as part of the image (e.g. playing with typographic elements, the visual aspects of text);
  • a short text at the beginning (prologue, scene setting) and/or end (epilogue, codicil, reflection).

Form of the Visual Essay

There are various ways to structure the visual essay. For this assignment, and depending on your technical skills, you can create:

(i) a video

(ii) a voice-over PowerPoint narration (you must be the narrator) 

The visual essay should be 3-5 minutes and should be uploaded using YouTube or Vimeo. Please see assignment handout for additional information.