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Social Movements Pre-Draft: Interpretive Caption

Essay #1 (Interpretive Caption): Getting around the city looks like

Photographic Messages

Pre-Draft Exercise Objectives:

1) To encourage students to think and see from multiple perspectives.

2) To give students practice responding to and incorporating others’ ideas in their writing.

Part 1: Students should read Barthes’s “The Photographic Message” before class.

Part 2: Distribute several photographs of various modes of transportation in action and invite students to choose one photograph, look at it closely and then create a list of the characteristics of the depicted mode of transportation the photograph brings forward and a second list of characteristics it obscures. (For example, a picture of riders waiting at a bus stop on a sunny day might emphasize the fact that riding the bus brings residents into contact with one another while obscuring the discomfort of waiting outside in less than pleasant weather.)

Part 3: Students should work from their lists of characteristics to compose paragraphs that explain the “message” about the mode of transportation their photograph conveys.

Part 4: Students who worked on the same photograph exchange paragraphs and write short responses to each other suggesting additional perspectives each might consider. If time permits, students should give feedback to at least 2 other students. Students should use their “message” paragraphs and the feedback they receive as springboards for their first essay.

Download: Sample pre-draft assignments for “Getting from Here to There” (doc)

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