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Fairy Tales in Visual Media

Page history last edited by Abigail Heiniger 8 years, 5 months ago

Return to Assignments


Fairy Tales in Visual Media

  • Due: 10 February 2014
    • Post to personal roster page AND SafeAssign on Blackboard 
  • 300 points (30% of total grade)
  • 3-5 pages 
  • This paper should be centered around a clear thesis statement. The thesis should make an argument about the use of fairy tales in the advertisements/art artifact. 
  •  Fairy Tales Visual Media Rubric.pdf  


For the midterm project, apply one of the work of one of the theorists from the course to a formal analysis of a work of visual art (that includes fairy tales).


Scaffolded Assignment Steps: 

  • Identify a literary fairy tale you are considering for this project.
    • Due 22 January 2014. 
  • Find a visual representation of a fairy tale (it may be an illustration, a painting, an advertisement…). 
    • Due 29 January 2014. 
  • Final paper.
    • Due 10 February 2014 



Your midterm assignments is designed to give you practice in applying the basic tools and terms of rhetoric to an analysis of fairy tale representations in visual media. This analysis introduces many of the key concepts we will be working through in our course. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think through and analyze the visual constructions of literary fairy tales in the visual arts. An excellent analysis will reveal the way visual constructions of fairy tales modify our understanding of fairy tale narratives.  



In a 3-5 page paper, introduce the ad(s)/work of art, and your analysis of the way a fairy tale/fairy tale theme is (re)constructed in visual media. This paper should be centered around a clear thesis statement. The thesis should make an argument about visual construction of a fairy tale/fairy tale message based on the evidence in the advertisement/artwork. Strong arguments will connect visual constructions of fairy tales with broader cultural power dynamics. Arrange the body of your analysis so that your reader moves through connections between the advertisement and art work in an orderly way. The argument should center on the VISUAL CONSTRUCTION OF A FAIRY TALE. Help the reader understand why you found a connection between the visual rhetoric of the advertisement/art work and the fairy tale interesting. Quote particulars to support your argument. Include the ads and art work with your final draft of this project.


A sample thesis for this project would be: 


This paper examines the way body position, body shape, and color function in illustrations of the female protagonist in "Little Red Riding Hood" to negotiate constructions of female sexuality in turn-of-the-century European society.   


Notice how this thesis incorporates all the elements of the assignment: 

  • visual analysis 
  • advertisement/artwork 



Thesis Centered Writing:

This course allows you to analyze texts, art, and artifacts through writing. All four projects in this course will be thesis centered. Every essay should use evidence (from art, artifacts, texts...) to create a single argument. The thesis should articulate that argument in a clear and concise manner.  


Questions to consider:

Consider the rhetorical situation of the ad/artwork.

  • What VISUAL RHETORIC is at work in this ad/artwork?
    • How does it use color?
      • What effect does color have on the viewer?
      • What message does color convey?  
    • How does it use lines?
      • Internal, implied lines?
      • Explicit lines? 
      • Lines of sight?
      • Angles? 
      • What effect do these lines have on the viewer?
      • What message do these lines convey?  
    • How does this ad/artwork manipulate space? Is it virtual, two-dimensional, or three-dimensional?
      • What is the significance of this manipulation of space?
      • How is space related to gender construction? 
    • How does it use the human body?
      • Where is the body situated (i.e. setting)?
      • How is the body positioned?
      • What is the significance of this to the meaning of gender identity?
    • How is the human body appareled?
      • Is there clothing?
      • What clothing?
      • What does the clothing indicate about the gender of the body/individual?
      • How does clothing CONSTRUCT gender identity?
    • What actions are being depicted?
      • What are the explicit meanings of these actions?
      • What are the implicit meanings of these actions? Consider  
      • How are these actions related to gender identity? 
  • Consider the CONTEXT of the ad/artwork.
    • Who was meant to view this? 
      • Is the target audience gender specific? Men? Women? Mainstream communities? Minority communities? 
    • Where was this viewed?
    • When was this viewed?
  • Consider the argument (think of the ad/artwork as an argument).
    • What claims does this ad/artwork EXPLICITLY make about gender identity? (Hint: if it does not, find a new piece to analyze)
    • What claims does the ad/artwork IMPLICITLY make about gender identity?  
    • Why are gender constructions being used to market this product/idea/piece?
    • Why is gender construction important to this image? 



You do NOT need to answer all (or any of these questions - these are just designed to help you move from summary to ANALYSIS of gender constructions in your advertisement AND artwork).  




Elements of Visual Rhetoric

The SurLaLune Fairy Tales site has AMAZING sources for fairy tale illustrations, including:





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