Assignment Description – Open the Box (10.1)

English 3003: Visual Op-Ed Prompt
Make an argument in a blended visual/verbal form, using photographs, drawings, graphs & charts, and/or videos.

The NYTimes visual op-ed solicitation page defines visual op-eds as “reported and researched opinion pieces that ​use visuals as the main way to convey your argument​.” The editors list the following types of visual op-eds:

  • A long read with visual elements that are crucial to understanding the story.
  • A chart-based piece where the data is the entire point of the argument.
  • A snappily written argument made through visuals.
  • An argument made more understandable through video and design.

I also encourage you to ​look to the personal data series and the comic essays​ we read in weeks one and two for inspiration; your visual op-ed could be more narrative than argument, as long as it uses visuals as a key mode of communication and draws on research and experience. Form and length will both vary depending on your topic, but my general (if infuriating) answer to the question, “How long should it be?” is, “Long enough to make your point.” Typically, ​op-eds are about 750 words. When I give you feedback, I will ask:

  • How well do the text and visuals work together? How are they mutually supportive?
  • Does the composition have a clear and coherent message?
  • If it’s an argument, is the thesis evident and well-supported? If it’s a narrative, is the “take-away”/”so what” obvious?
Propose a topic (by M 9/9, 11:59 pm)
In a document in your turn-in folder, tell me:
1. What argument you hope to make or what kind of narrative you intend to tell
2. What medium you intend to use
3. What visuals you intend to use, and a general plan for creating them
4. What research you’ll need to do to complete the project
5. Any questions/concerns you have (about pragmatics, getting visuals, etc.)
Prepare for workshopping (by F 9/20, class time)
By class time on 9/19, you should have at least a half-draft of your op-ed ready for workshopping. What “half-draft” means will depend on your topic/form. We will discuss 1-3 people’s drafts as a whole class, and then break into smaller groups.

Post your final draft (by M 9/23, 11:59 pm)

Return to “Open the Box”