In her essay “The War Photo No One Wanted to Publish,” Torie Rose DeGhett examines the history of a specific photo and the self-inflicted censorship of it by the U.S. media. DeGhett contends that the censorship of the photo bordered on deception and also supported efforts to portray Desert Storm as a ‘bloodless’ war. DeGhett says “it’s hard to calculate the consequences of a photograph’s absence. But sanitized images of warfare, the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf argues, make it ‘easier . . . to accept bloodless language’ such as 1991 reference to ‘surgical strikes’ or modern-day terminology like ‘kinetic warfare’”(74). For DeGhett, the elimination of the photograph from American media affected public perception of the war, and perhaps affected public acceptance of it as well.
DeGhett’s essay focuses on a photograph taken in 1991, when large news organizations had more control over which images and stories circulated. And yet there are plenty of images and stories that largely go unseen. What images aren’t being seen today? What stories aren’t being told? Alternatively, there are images that go viral based on a cultural moment and the circulation of ideas across social media. What makes those images such powerful storytellers? What kinds of stories can images tell?
· Analyze an image that tells a story you think we need to understand. This might be an image that circulated widely and you believe should not have, or that it has been misunderstood. It could be an image that you believe has not circulated enough. It could be an image that seems to perfectly and fully capture the story of a moment, and an analysis of the image’s potentials and limitations as a storyteller. The purpose of your essay is to analyze a single image and its circulation (or lack of circulation), and make an argument about the role of this image in telling the story of an event. Use DeGhett’s essay as a model for closely analyzing images, as well as for thinking about how and why images circulate and the implications of their circulation.
· You can discuss more than one visual (or written) source for evidence and context, but your essay should clearly focus on a single image and its impact.
· In place of a traditional essay, you may create a visual argument. Your visual argument should focus on a single image, even as it uses other images for context and support. A visual argument could be a photo essay, Instagram story, video. Vlog, slide presentation, or something else. DeGhett should still be used for analytical support.
· Visual arguments must be accompanied by a 1-page rhetorical explanation and reflection, in which the writer explains their choices and intentions in the visual text (why this approach, why these images, why this layout, who the intended audience is, etc.).