Task 1a- The Essay Project

An analytical essay “involves critical examination” (Clarke, 2007, p.151), where we delve deeper into questioning the authors statement and give our own personal responses and interpretations to the text. Considering both sides of the statement and various opinions from other authors to gain greater comprehension.

It is distinct from other genres of academic writing as it mainly focuses on “the text’s themes and your personal response to these” (nwciowa.edu, http://home.nwciowa.edu/lundberg/AmLit/essayadv.htm, essayadv, website, April 2016). An analytical essay is different as we challenge the author’s statement asking multiple questions and, “…presenting some type of argument, or claim” (wikihow.com, Wikipedia, website, April 2016), it is based on individual interpretation.

Some good processes and approaches to follow when planning an analytical essay is to begin with “carry out an in depth inquiry into your chosen subject… can lead to a deeper meaning of what is expected.” (Clarke, 2007, p.153). Doing some preliminary brainstorming can help open up new questions that would be interesting to explore. “It is a good idea to know exactly what your conclusion is going to be before you start to write”, (Cappelen Damm AS, http://access-socialstudies. , Cappelen Damm AS, 2008, website, April 2016) this is good for writing in a logical progression.


Task 1B- What kind of thinker, planner and writer are you?

  • The advantages of different ways of organising writing is that there are parts where people are able to learn from others in order to improve essay planning and writing. The disadvantages of having different ways of organising writing is that there will be different rates at which people work, some may take longer than others to complete a task.
  • ‘The Grand Plan Writer’ shaping and planning style is most like my approach. This is because I spend a lot of time making notes, going over the question and statements and re-writing them in a way which I better understand what is expected. After writing I also tend to summarise everything again in the introduction and conclusion for a better overview of what I have just learnt/ written.
  • My way may be different from these different learning and planning styles as I tend to highlight important information and annotate over and over to simplify the meanings.

Firstly, I begin highlighting key words of the brief and look over what is expected in the exercise, I then go over it in my own words and tend to annotate things of interest and importance on the page. With reading and researching it is the same, I will skim read all resources and then go over in depth and add my own notes so I know the information is being processed, if I do not understand something I will always look on the dictionary or search for another reliable and accurate resource. Then with the information highlighted, I will break down the essay into main key points and add information under each main title, evidence and my own annotations included.

Based on the student descriptions I am ‘The Patchwork Writer’ and ‘The Grand Plan Writer’. It was useful reading these descriptions because it gave me an insight to the strengths and difficulties that I also am able to relate closely too when planning and writing any essay. I am able to come up with a draft and continue adding links from there and also tend to absorb as much of the brief as I can to better understand the task at hand.



Task 2a- Which question?

Firstly the question is asking me to explain his perspective and individual take on the statements, ‘human influences and impacts upon the environment’ and ‘Western cultures in particular have had a preoccupation with the conquest of nature’. Secondly, list and explain how artists/ designers/ people are vocally concerned about the environment, and how it impacts on beings and the planet. Lastly, explain how the environment and its life forms are suffering in consequence to Mirzoeff’s statements.


Task 2c- Mind map

mind map1.png




Task 3a- Critically reading and thinking

Mirzoeff wants us to think about how our human species and existence has slowly been deteriorating our planet and the environment. To the extent, Mirzoeff wants us to fully understand the situation and the consequences we have in effect on the environment and Earth, and from there, then are we able to begin forming new solutions to the global problem. He mentions about ‘Anthropocene’ more than once, which also focuses on how this time in history, our present, is where our species has become the most dominant in the regards to the ‘conquest of nature’.

I believe it is important for us to read about this text, it may not be directly targeted at any individual, however he subtly suggests that we are all connected in a way, meaning that we are somehow all responsible to the deterioration of nature and its life forms. I would further research into the topic as human developments, such as industry, extinct of animals and machinery, each hold consequences that have been blindly overlooked and taken for granted. Researching about how we are slowly killing our planet would allow better understanding and the creation of ground-breaking solutions.

(Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The Changing World” How to See the World. London: Pelican, 2015. Print. ‘Figure 66 — The Lancet, map, ‘Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change’)


This best exemplifies Mirzoeff’s ideas, in my opinion, his main idea of conversation is about how people do not fully recognise or truly comprehend the danger that our human developments are actually effecting the world as we know it. This map indicates the amount of gas emissions compared to the amount of people affected (deaths), the main point being that there are opposite effects on countries. More people from low emitting countries are suffering from the disruption of gas emissions from other countries. Allowing us to understand that Mirzoeff’s beliefs that humans are causing their own destruction, we are the main reason for global warming and the damage of the planet itself.

  • The chapter title ‘The Changing World’, hints that the topic will be about the development and history of change on the planet, some contrast between then and now.
  • In the introduction, he introduces the main ideas in a short list in the third paragraph. He uses small titles to begin his new sub topics. In conclusion, he summarises his points with a quote and gives examples of the natural disasters and element of surprise these events affect humans.
  • He develops his discussion around key points by engaging the audience and asking questions himself, in allowing the thinking of the reader, “How do we now when the climate has changed?” (Mirzoeff p.1) By using visual texts, he develops his discussion by looking at the image in detail and drawing out attention to how and why it was composed as strong evidence to his argument. It was easier for me to understand his claim when he introduced various visual texts, as I am a visual learner.
  • He makes connections between historical periods and the current moment through use of his selected visual texts. Most of these texts were drawn from the past, and he is able to compare what the world was like during the period to what life is like now. This is a clear comparison which serves useful to the reader who is able to notice how different both societies are and what humans have done to change the world in such short amount of time.
  • Mirzoeff does suggest his thoughts in statements throughout the chapter, “… we should think of connecting a series of such frames into a ‘film’ that would allow us to see the structures, networks, histories and the effects of the Anthropocene” (Mirzoeff p.219), his opinion of how we should be approaching these issues and negative effects of the human dominant period.
  • He organises his discussion by sorting his topics from the beginning of our most natural to most modernised and industrialised world. Beginning with birds, the beauty of nature through animals and artworks, then transporting us into the world of coal and harmful emissions we have come to think as normal.


3b- Writing technique, free writing

Mirzoeff wants us to think about how our human species and existence has slowly been deteriorating our planet and the environment. Mirzoeff wants us to fully understand the situation and the consequences we have in effect on the environment and Earth, then are we able to begin forming new solutions to the global problem. Talks about ‘Anthropocene’ a lot, which also focuses on how this time in history, our present, is where our species has become the most dominant in the regards to the ‘conquest of nature’. Subtly suggests that we are all connected in a way, meaning that we are somehow all responsible to the deterioration of nature and its life forms. Human developments, such as industry, extinct of animals and machinery, each hold consequences that have been blindly overlooked and taken for granted. Talks about different poets, photographer and artists who aim to advertise how humans have changed how we see and understand beauty of the world. Photographers capturing ice melting due to climate change, artists capturing extinct animals such as birds who had been eaten by Dutch sailors, painters painting what was ‘modern’ during the time of coal and mixed a sunset with smoke. Map as a visual text indicates the amount of gas emissions compared to the amount of people affected (deaths). More people from low emitting countries are suffering from the disruption of gas emissions from other countries. Allowing us to understand that Mirzoeff’s beliefs that humans are causing their own destruction, we are the main reason for global warming and the damage of the planet itself.

Further close reading

  1. Inverse relationships, human ignorance and desire to live in modern societies
  2. Beauty of different natures, photographers/ artists/ painters drawing attention
  3. Extinction of animals, birds for food and sales
  4. Industrialisation, continuation of human domination burning coal and the consequences
  5. Built into our senses, what has become normal and invisible networking

Visual texts

  1. The Lancet, map, ‘Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change’- refers to this to show how climate change is effecting different groups of people. Idea of inversed relationships where countries who give off less emissions have been greatly affected by other countries in consequence of their proximity.
  2. Green (after Wright), An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump- refers to this to show the invention of the air pump by British scientist. Idea of showing comparisons of taking over nature (birds) and territory (land).
  3. Audobon, Passenger Birds- refers to this to show the beauty of the ‘Passenger Birds’. Idea of painter’s inability to paint live forms of these species due to their extinction, using corpses as a base of drawing.
  4. Monet: Impression, Sun Rising- refers to this to show what people began to understand as the new normal, smoky coal mixed with the landscape behind. Idea of beautiful human destruction being a dominated scene of machinery.
  5. Monet, Unloading Coal- refers to this to show human domination. Idea of having a once beautiful ocean turned into a function for human use and industrial work.
  6. Bellows, Forty: Two Kids- refers to this to show society life in New York, the negative impact on families. Idea of sewage and industrial waste consuming lives, however people were blinded to the state and desired to live in the modern city.
  7. Beijing, National Stadium- refers to this to show the amount of steel produced for the Olympic Games in Beijing China. Idea of how much global gas emissions would have been released in order for the production of the ‘Bird’s Nest’ and ‘Orbit’ sculpture to be built.
  8. Kapoor, Orbit- refers to this to show Chinese culture and industrial production power, with steel being produced at a massive scale worldwide. Idea of compulsory reduction of industrial activity in China, shows the country’s ability to contain global warming. However no nation is willing to lead the world, when it has been shown possible to reduce global warming.
  9. Baloji, Memoire- refers to this to show native people in Katanga, their own country, being slaves. Idea of forced labour on native communities, being pushed around and controlled by colonies who took over land. Continuous evidence of human activity and greed for copper in Katanga.
  10. Installation view of Coal + Ice, Yixian, China- refers to this to show photographers drawing attention to melting ice in consequence of increased coal production. Idea of global conjoined effort in building global warming, our ignorance to how we will be effected by the melted ice in the future, the repercussions on all species.
  11. Fisk, map of the Mississippi River and flood plain- refers to this to show the importance of the Mississippi River flow downstream between North and South America. Idea of the key vessel of transporting goods and interconnectivity of trade and industrial/ agricultural networking.
  12. US Army of Corps Engineers, diagrammatic map of the Mississippi River- refers to this to show the history of the Mississippi River, a map and diagram of movement and flow. Idea of indicating various possible outcome when attempting to change the direction of flow of the Mississippi River, mostly ending in useless attempts.


3c- Summary of a paragraph

‘Modern Beauty’ (Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The Changing World” How to See the World. London: Pelican, 2015. p. 227. Print.)

Artworks were initially made to capture the beauty of nature, now serves as a reminder of our own destruction of the planet. Looking back we learn from these artworks, developing new ways which will allow us to find new solutions. In order for us to change global warming, we have to look at what we are doing, how we are destroying our world, for us to fully understand how we can begin to fix and mend the cracks.


3d- Mind map brainstorm




3e- Locating relevant credible material

This source is worth reading because it comes from the opinion of chief innovator ‘John Kotter’, who talks about how most people view and deal with the change in our world. His ideas are about how society believe in the constant change of our planet, however still do not yet fully understand how to go about adapting to it. He mentions that people notice change, but do not change our behaviours to fit with our surroundings, we do not have the desire to adapt, and rather that it takes generations for it to start effect. This information is relevant to my question because they both focus on how our human species have the ability to recognise change, however are not able to realise that the world is changing too fast and that we lack the desire to come up with a solution before time runs out. Because we are not fully appreciating the consequences of this exponentially rising change, we continue to want more from nature, drying it out of its resources to continue our survival. This source will be difficult to tell if it is credible or verifiable because it is the opinion and perspective of one person. I believe it can be credible as it has been written by a professor from Harvard of Business School who would be quite knowledgeable.


This material is relevant to the question as it informs me about a specific example (German’s landscape take over) of how human activity has influenced and impacted the environment. New land was to be cleared for Germans on a grand scale, and wetlands of the region were used for expansion and improved production. This resource is worth reading because it has specific detailed information about what the Germans were up to and how they went about things to expand and build up their nation. This relates to the question also as it indicates how the conquest of nature had begun and the reasons behind draining wetlands for industrial and agricultural production and continual survival for man. I believe that this resource is credible as its evidence comes from a book that has been published with primary sourced evidence from the time. Because the author of the book has researched into the topic and talked about these primary images, I believe that this resource is also verifiable as the author would have based his findings from these proven materials.


This video is relevant to my question as it shows the consequences and detailed processes of how global warming effect the planet. How human activity is the main scientific cause of emitting harmful gases and creating thin layers in our ozone layer, making the Earth warmer each year and melting ice. The documentary video also talks about how developing countries are increasing their fossil fuel consumptions which in effects are slowly deteriorating various life forms on the planet. This video is worth listening to as it also gives the audience some advice on how to contain global warming near the end of the video, by changing to eco-friendly light bulbs and turning electricity switches off, to minimise energy use. I believe that this material is credible as the ‘National Geographic’ channel is well known and uses trustworthy evidence from a range of resources, videos, statistics, images and quotes from scientists. I also believe that it is verifiable because scientists and researchers have given detailed statistics, and also because they have stated that information from the past has been proven accurate in our current time.


This material is relevant to the question as it mainly talks about the main reasons for the conquest of nature. Why land was taken over and nature and territories were used for the ‘Industrial Revolution’. The questions asks why Mirzoeff proposes that Western cultures had a preoccupation with the ‘conquest of nature’, the resource stating that England had a lot of coal near the surface of the land which made it faster to use and thrived before China. This video is worth listening to because it gave me a good sense of background information about how Europeans predominantly needed coal the most, beginning the massive industrial production phase to help their developing countries. I believe that this resource is credible as the show has a team of historians who are able to suggest materials and answer audience questions, the information was very detailed and supported their reasons with primary and secondary images. This is also verifiable as he refers to iconic people who had invented machines and their achievements with machinery.



3f- Bringing you knowledge to the topic

German land take over, European colonisation, coal works, Industrial Revolution, industry in China/ India, Hitler’s reign, Dodo bird extinction, global warming, changing to eco- friendly techniques and growing ice in Antarctica.

(Menzel, Adolph. The Iron Rolling. 1875. April 2016.)



(Rutherford, John. “Sabbath stroll that created the Industrial Revolution”. https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015. The Guardian. 29th May 2015. Painting. April 2016.)



3g- Glossary

  • Anthropocene- the current time period where human activity has been most dominant on the environment and the planet. Our species are shaping and instrumenting nature’s landscapes.
  • Geology- the main focus of issues of the Earth through scientific experiments and observations. Dealing with the history and study of the natural materials around us.
  • Colonisation- the movement and spreading of any species to a new territory/ area in which they desire to take over, where they are to build a new life and home.
  • Credible- trustworthy material, convincing argument and evidence.
  • Verifiable- confirmed evidence, material that has been proved just and accurate.


Image Selection

Task 4a- Video review

In this video, I have learnt how visual literacy has influenced children and generations during an earlier time. How it has the strong influence on “shaping young minds” in a way which has the ability to expand emotions and ideas, visual literacy being a very powerful tool in teaching our future. He believes that visual forms are used to tell a story, both positive and negative ones. I have learnt that children at a young age are able to learn things as they do it, through critically thinking about how to show emotions through a photograph, their depiction of ideas is their own. “Training the eye and heart of a student”, he mentions that visual literacy plays a very important part in a person’s learning comprehension, and that it should be focused a lot more in schools for their learning.

They each addressed how critical thinking is obtaining new knowledge and how we are to evolve everything in the world as we are now, continually increasing visual literacy. I learnt that most people just look at an image but do not think much of it, and that we should take the time to look closely in detail to understand and appreciate our world. However critical thinking will essentially allow us to obtain new knowledge, “we live an increasingly visual world”, to keep up with this change we need to understand and build from these visual texts. I believe that it would be good for other people to watch this video because it shows a wide range of opinions of critical thinking in our society and how and where it can be used in everyday life. It is also very short and concise which the viewer is able to watch over and over again faster, I recommend this video as it also highlights the reason of visual text importance, surrounds us wherever we are, being able to look in detail and understand in order to expand our knowledge.

The ‘Visual Literacy and Critical Thinking’ video got their point across to me best because it was short and concise compared to the longer video where he talked about a lot more about his life experiences, which is only one man’s opinion. The second video focused on one main topic ‘Critical Thinking and Visual Texts’ which was explained its importance through different individual opinions. Whilst the first video focused more on one person’s opinion and his thoughts on how his life influences shaped his perspective on teaching future generations.


4b- Image selection

  • (Rutherford, John. “Sabbath stroll that created the Industrial Revolution”. The Guardian. 29th May 2015. Painting. April 2016.)


This visual text is relevant to the question because it represents factories producing goods and emitting harmful gases into the air. This human activity was happening during the ‘Industrial Revolution’, where production and creation of new machinery was beginning to develop. Mirzoeff talks about how human development has increased global warming and the harmful emissions and toxic sewage has been released.



This image is relevant to the question as it shows the extinction of the species, how its skeleton is what can be revived and used to show the closest representation of the Dodo bird. Mirzoeff talks about how humans have begun the extinction of species, selling them, eating them and hunting them, all leading to their end.



This visual text is relevant to the question because it represents how ice has melted in the Antarctic, the penguins all bunched together on one ice cap, lack of ice floating around due to harmful emissions warming the atmosphere up, causing the ice to increasingly melt a fast rate. Mirzoeff talks about how human activity is the main cause of global warming, using coal and energy to power everything for survival, however not noticing the effects of our actions elsewhere.



This is relevant to the question because it shows the conditions for miners during the ‘Industrial Revolution’, how miners would have to crouch down to do their jobs and risk their lives to earn some money. Mirzoeff talks about how the continuation of people taking over land has increased the need to mine for coal, and the need for its use to power heavy machinery in use for survival.


4c- Visual analysis of selected images

(Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The Changing World” How to See the World. London: Pelican, 2015. Print. ‘Figure 70 — Monet. “Unloading Coal”. 1875. April 2016.)


Questions about image-

Coalmen from Belgium and France are transferring coal from factories to ships to be transported overseas. The viewers eyes are being drawn to the people, the lines are diagonally leading down towards the boats, creating a sense of travel and destination of the coalmen, I believe the painter is aiming to make us recognise the people as the focus. The vantage point if where the painter is looking, his perspective in observing from afar. The bridge in the background above the workers allow to make the link between the landscape and the figures, as they are all based on industrial production. “Monet gives the composition a sombre, serious atmosphere, which accentuates the workers’ bleak plight”, using cooler colours to represent the gloomy feeling of the painting. The genre of this painting is impressionism, using colour and light to show the feeling of the landscape at the exact moment. His ability to blend colours into each other are very good, the sky and the land blend well to show the link of nature as a whole, and the black figures acting as a link to nature.

Questions about production-

Made in 1875, quays of the Seine River near the railway bridge of Asnières by Claude Monet. It was not intended for anyone, just to capture the modern day landscape of the time. Its production depends on the painter and what he aims to capture, using a cooler colour palette to form senses and feeling. The painter is an Impressionist styled painter “he was not for example, like Seurat, concerned with making political commentary”, the painting had no social criticism, the subjects of the image are workers from Belgium and France. The relation between the painter and the subjects are that he is watching them from a far, capturing the everyday production of coal, linking networking with hard labour. The genre of the image is “somewhat Japanesque and a balletic representation of work”, and has a gloomy feel which emphasises the dreary workers labouring away. The form of the image reconstitutes these identities and relationships of this production because of the arch of the bridge in the background and the silhouettes, the form is just framed enough to capture the happenings in this image, where people are seen loading coal to and from the boats.

Questions about audience-

The original audience for this image would have been for himself, as this was not to socially criticise anyone or anything, he simply wanted to capture how common this landscape was. Currently not being displayed, however recent audiences could be those wanting to learn about the Industrial Revolution or history of coal mining or production networking. We are looking through the eyes of the painter himself at the time, this relation allowing the audiences to be a part of the image, as if they are experiencing it first hand, watching from afar. The image probably could have done without a caption, this is due to the bridge in the background, allowing possible historians to trace back to the place, and also because the name of the painting ‘Les charbonniers’ (the coalmen), is French which indicate the origins of this image. There can be different views to this image, as it mainly just about the landscape and industrial accomplishments at the time, people can have different opinions about increasing human activity, both negative and positive, how human are destroying our planet, or improving it for the better. Some groups, depending on how industrially developed they are, can react differently to this image. If they are from a more developed country then it is easier for them to accept how far industrial production has improved and see these techniques as old, on the other hand, slower developing countries would believe that the processes are still current to them.


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