Poster and Brochure Analysis

shared by ISUComm on August 18, 2014

Activity Summary:

This exercise asks students in English 150 to analyze posters and brochures as a genre so they may later develop a heuristic for how they can incorporate visuals strategically in preparation for Assignment #5.


This activity is intended for a 50-minute session of an English 150 class. To be successful in this exercise, students should have had some practice in genre analysis as outlined in John Trimbur’s “The Call to Write,” as well as a familiarity with the visual and design strategies outlined in excerpts from Molly Bang’s “Picture This” (provided). By this point in the semester, students are continuing to develop their understanding of genre by both analyzing and composing writing projects that conform and combine different genres of formal and informal writing. Assignment #5 asks them to take the content from either Assignment #3 or Assignment #4, and translate that content into the genre of a poster or brochure. To this end, this exercise challenges student to think critically about posters and brochures as a genre. They will collect “artifacts,” or genre samples, that they will then analyze for their conventions and rhetorical styles. They will complete an assignment worksheet that asks them to identify genre conventions while also analyzing design choices. Through an instructor facilitated class discussion, the students will develop an understanding of these genres in their own words, so that they may later develop a how may compose their own posters and brochures in ways that are rhetorically effective. The instructor will need the following materials for this exercise: The worksheets provided, a laptop, a classroom with both a digital projector and a document camera (both included in all classrooms in Ross hall).

This exercise asks students in English 150 to analyze posters and brochures as a genre so they may later develop a heuristic for how they can incorporate visuals strategically in preparation for Assignment #5.
  1. Before this exercise can be successful, the students must have a familiarity with analyzing genre, and an understanding of how to analyze image. Chapters 2 and 19 in John Trimbur’s The Call to Write should be required reading for the students before they can complete this exercise. Students also either read the excerpt from Molly Bang’s Picture This, or have attended a short lecture on the subject using the Powerpoint™ file provided. It is at the instructor’s discretion of how to discuss these materials with the class before this exercise.
  2. For homework, students will collect examples of brochures and posters from around the campus. The prompt for this assignment can be posted on the course Moodle page, and requires little elaboration. “Exercise: Find an example of a brochure or poster that you think is rhetorically effective. Your chosen brochure or poster will serve as an artifact that we will analyze in class on Monday.”
  3. Before class, print enough copies so that you can place students in groups of about 3 or 4. Project the worksheet on the screen and explain the two steps to the assignment.
  4.  Ask the class which students brought in posters and which brought in brochures, then place the students in groups of three or four based upon their genre selections. The goal is to have each group analyzing one genre; that is to say they should be analyzing either posters OR brochures.
  5. Project the exercise worksheet onto a screen using a laptop and digital projector. Explain to the students the two crucial steps to the assignment: 1) To look for the genre conventions across their chosen artifacts, and 2) to choose one of those artifacts and analyze the design choices using the questions provided.
  6. Once the students have worked through the assignment sheet, they will be ready to present to the class both a list of genre conventions, and an analysis of how text and visuals work together. In a 50-minute class, there will be enough time to have two groups present to their analysis to the class. The instructor should have one group present their posters as a genre, and one group present their brochures. The instructor will use the document camera to project their chosen artifact for the exercise so that it is available to view by the rest of the class.

At the end of class, the instructor will collect both the samples and the completed worksheets from the students to be kept for the next class period. These materials will be returned to the groups at that time so they may revisit the worksheet and develop a list of Do’s and Don’ts for poster and brochure composition.