WHAT IS THIS ASSIGNMENT?
The Initial Artifact Analysis assignment asks you to choose a cultural artifact and perform a close analysis of what it is communicating and how it is communicating it. In 2–3 pages, work to identify the defining elements of your artifact and explain how those parts fit together to communicate various meanings. Support the claims you make with evidence and connect the two with clear reasoning. Your artifact must be web-accessible. Please include a Works Cited, where you provide a citation of your artifact. Your artifact should be the only thing on your Works Cited page. If you think you need additional sources, check with your instructor.
WHAT ISN’T THIS ASSIGNMENT?
One of the first key moves to make when entering an analytical perspective is to try and suspend your initial judgments, and turn your focus on observing details and patterns. We are very good at jumping to evaluate something, looking at a text first as either “good” or “bad.” Please keep in mind, however, that with this assignment, the objective is not about whether you agree or disagree with what you find the artifact is communicating. Nor is it about whether you like or dislike it, or think it should or shouldn’t do something. In fact, the goal is to practice pressing pause on our evaluative judgments, keeping our concentration squarely placed on the evidence at hand.
As this is an Initial Artifact Analysis, the objective is not to settle on any central argument. Committing to one angle of interpretation so early in the analysis could limit your ability to observe other details of the text, and consider alternate viewpoints. Let’s work to unpack and understand an artifact’s complexity before taking a position on how it could best be interpreted.
This assignment emphasizes analysis, the act of breaking something down to its key elements and determining how those elements work together to create meaning. This means that the assignment is not just about description and summary. Although description and summary have important roles in a compelling critical analysis, in this assignment you’re prompted to engage with specifics and details—moving beyond summary—and pursue possible interpretations—thereby moving beyond description.
Yes. Work hard in and out of class to 1) understand the characteristics a great artifact; 2) select a great artifact; and 3) practice the fundamental moves of analysis—again and again.
As a reminder, your Initial Artifact Analysis should include:
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