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!"#$"% '()*+#,# Topic Bue: Thuis. 9.2S | Biaft: Tues. 9.Su | Final: Fii. 1u.


I. |Descriptionj: In this assignment you will perform a rhetorical analysis of an exhibit you find
on a visit to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Following the museum
analysis chapters weve read as guidelines, you will write a 2-page single-spaced essay, that
examines the museums varying definitions of natural and/or history, and that answers the

What covert arguments (bias/economics of attention/rhetorical moves) does this display

Thus, your goal is to think about the intentions of the person who designed this exhibitnot easy
intentions (this person intended to inform, etc.) but hidden intentions (this person intended to
persuade, argue, convince, manipulate). To make these arguments you should use a combination
of design theory (Anderson), basic rhetorical concepts (ethos, pathos, logos), and visual rhetoric
(museum readings and Kress and VanLeeuwen). Most museums (like most technical documents)
set out to appear as if they are apolitical displays of pure data, but as weve discovered so far,
there is no such thing as pure dataall technical documents point our attention at one thing
while pointing it away from something else. To begin to come up with an argument you might
consider the following questions:

II. |Exhibit Analysis Questionsj:
What is natural history according to this museum? What is history (something that has
happened in the past and is over) and what is not history (something happening in the
present and ongoing)? How do you know? Where do you see this argument?
Whats the difference between history and culture? How do you know? Where do you see
this argument?
What is this museums definition of natural? How do you know? Where do you see this
Do some parts of the museum feel solemn and sacred while others feel fun/gamelike?
How are these feelings achieved? Why?
What information is left in and out of your exhibit? Why do you think?
What does the exhibit want us to remember and forget? Why?
What types of skewed, biased, and emotional language are used in exhibits? Why?
What types of emotions are aroused (are dinosaurs scary? Why? Are we encouraged to
mourn the loss of indigenous culture? How?)
How are natural things posed? Why is this bear on his hind legs? Why are these
insects, here? This wolf, here?
How do visuals, words, and sounds work together? What different types of knowledge
does each provide?
How does your exhibit fit into the museum at large?
What are the exhibits directly surrounding your exhibit and how do those surrounding
exhibits affect how information is delivered?
Which exhibits are the most interesting/interactive and which arent? Why? How does
that relate to what the museum thinks the most important exhibits are?
What are the other ways in which the data in your exhibit might be delivered? Why
wasnt it delivered in those other ways?
Is this exhibit biased in any way? (Is a politically charged concept like evolution directly
addressed or avoided?)
How does this exhibit provide facts? Is there a narrative? Quotes? Statistics? Why?
Who is this exhibit for and who is it not for? How can you tell?
What is the lighting like in the exhibit? Why? What are lights shown on and what are
they not shown on?

III. |Museum Analysis Questionsj:
Rather than choosing a specific exhibit, you might want to make an argument about the museum
(or a section within it) at large:
How is the giftshop related to the museum? How do the toys, games, trinkets, etc., relate
or not relate to the concepts in the museum? Why?
How do the big sections of the museum relate to one another? Make an argument about
the state of Oklahoma?
How does the architecture of the museum affect how content is received?
How does the geographic location of the museum (what can you see outside the
museums windows) affect the content of the museum?
Who funds this museum? Whos Sam Noble? How is the museum related to the
university? Who funds the university? How is this related to the content of the museum?
(Does the museum consider the history of the oil industry, for instance?)

Iv. |Basic Requirementsj:
1. 2 single-spaced pages
2. Directly addresses how the exhibit you are analyzing defines the concepts of natural,
history, or both.
3. Every piece of your argument/claim you make must include PEA:
A point (what is your claim/argument),
A piece of evidence (description of exhibit, picture, quote from exhibit, etc.)
supporting that claim,
Analysis (a line of interpretation that connects the evidence to the claim, i.e., this
example illustrate my argument because)
4. 2 images of the exhibit youre analyzingformatted correctly in word (these dont add to
page count)
5. 1 reference to how your exhibit fits into the museum as a whole
6. 2 references to rhetorical terms (from our readings or in-class discussions)
7. 1 reference to how technical concepts are being translated to a popular audience
8. 2 quotations (at least):
1 from the museum at large (showing how it thinks of itself, its audience, etc.see
the museums websites, pamphlets, etc.)
1 from the exhibit you are analyzing