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CRHS_AP Lang Iconic Image Analysis_Berg: Assignment basics

Iconic Image Analysis Essay

Iconic Image

Cause/Effect Essay with Sources 

Learning Target

To respond to the AP mandate to incorporate "visual literacy" into the coursework 

The Task

Select an arguably iconic visual image that has had a significant cultural impact.  Do low intensity research to learn more about the historical context, origin, composition, production, manipulation, dissemination, and/ or subsequent alterations/ parodies of the chosen image.  Using analysis and argument, explain the social, political, biographical complexities that brought this piece into being (CAUSE) or how the image affected the social, political or cultural realities of its time and place (EFFECT). You will write a cause/effect essay that discusses your findings.


·         A "visual image" could be a photograph, a painting, a statue, or a monument. You must include the visual representation in your presentation essay.

·         Your essay should have a main claim about the image (arguable), a focus on either the CAUSE or the EFFECT of your chosen image, and evidence from multiple resources. APA citations are required.


  • The effect of Mount Rushmore on South Dakota's branding and tourism, on American Indian attitudes toward the dominant culture
  • The effect of Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother (photo) on public response to the Depression, on Lange's career as a photographer
  • The socio-political events that caused France’s design and building of The Statue of Liberty
  • Public opinion of the Vietnam War and how that influenced the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

Prewriting: Image Analysis

In your prewriting work, you should begin by conducting an analysis of the piece itself, from a rhetorical standpoint. Questions to consider are:


  1. What do you notice?  NOTE: you are not being asked to judge the work, only to explain what you see in the work.
  2. What does the work remind you of? Explain any stories, poems, memories, lyrics, etc. that come to mind when studying the work.
  3. What emotions do you feel as you engage with this work?
  4. What questions does the piece raise for you?  What do you want to know?
  5. Speculate on the meaning, or the intent, of the artist.  What do you think the artist was trying to convey?  What was their message or purpose in creating this piece?  List evidence seen in the work that supports your statement.

Sample Images