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ENG 105-08 (Ryan): Unit 3 - Ekphrasis, Narrative, and Analysis

Unit 3 - Ekphrasis, Narrative, and Analysis

Additional Resources

Schedule an appointment with a librarian

You can schedule a research appointment with a librarian through our LibCal page, which syncs with the librarians' calendars. You are welcome to schedule an appointment for help with this assignment, or for help with any other project for a class. - Abe

Assignment : Ekphrastic Narrative and Analysis

At some point in March, our class will travel to the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk and view their various collections. During this visit, you will be asked to observe the space around you as you view these artworks, and you will choose one artwork to respond to and analyze in an ekphrastic narrative and analysis paper. In this paper, you will engage with outside research on the artist and their work while also reflecting on your experience of viewing this artwork in the museum space. This assignment will allow you to “read” the artwork you choose like a text and analyze not only the choices of the artist but of the museum curators and yourself, as the audience, in how this artwork is situated in culture and space. (Length: minimum of 3 pages double spaced)

Ekphrasis defined

For your second assignment of ENG 105-08, you are being asked to write an ekphrastic narrative and analysis about a painting you see on your visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art.

"The intense pictorial description of an object. This very broad term has been limited by some to the description of art-objects, and even to the self-description of ‘speaking’ art-objects (objects whose visual details are significant). A more generous account would define ekphrasis as virtuosic description of physical reality (objects, scenes, persons) in order to evoke an image in the mind’s eye as intense as if the described object were actually before the reader."

-J.A. Cuddon and M.A.R. Habib, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory"ekphrasis/ecphrasis"

"In your initial semiotic analysis--your initial reading of the text--try to consider all aspects of a text before applying a label like 'good' or 'bad' (or 'interesting' or 'boring'). Such labels are earned only after a thorough reading of the text under question"
–Jonathan Silverman and Dean Rader, The World is a Text

At the Museum : How to Use Your Time

Come prepared to take notes: Bring a steno pad or small notebook and 1-2 writing utensils.

Consider the mind map below: What are the kinds of information you would only be able to gather by seeing an art object (the primary source) up close?

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Consider the mind map below: What are the kinds of information you would only be able to gather through doing secondary research?

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Key Art Terms

Medium (Art Media) - the materials that a work of art is made out of

Technique - the method or way the artist used their materials and tools

Print - a work of art that was reproduced using a block, plate, type piece, inkjet or other method that allows the image to be printed/produced multiple times

(types include: intaglio vs. relief, etching vs. engraving, lithography, monochrome vs. chromolithography vs. photolithography)




Writing Inspiration / Models

Q: What does art writing feel like / sound like?

25 Art Blogs You Should Follow in 2024 (

Describing an Art Object : a Mind Map

Art Objects Practice

Right-click on an image and click Open in a new tab to be able to make the image larger or smaller. Press CTRL + or CTRL -, or use your mouse wheel to increase or decrease the size.

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Art Object 1

Art Object 2

Art Object 3

Art Object 4

Art Object 5