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Gif Essay Assignment

Gif Essay Assignment – ENGL 307
Due due: See calendar on Canvas
Grade percentage: 20%
Deliverables: 1 GIF essay, 1 reflection essay
TL, DR: You will critique an experience you had through a combination of texts and gifs and write a response to your critique where you reflect on your rhetorical decisions on the interplay between text and gifs.

This assignment has two major parts:
1. First, you will select an artifact that you want to write a review about. This artifact can be (nearly) anything: a trip you took, a book you read, a video game you hate, a restaurant you liked, a pair of shoes you wore, a visit to the Smithsonian, etc. What is important is that:
a. It is something that you personally experienced
b. It provoked a strong reaction from you (positive or negative)
c. You are comfortable using humor to talk about it (because using gifs is unavoidably humorous)
Along with the text of your review, you will also include several gifs throughout the text. A great example of this kind of essay is Katrina Passick Lumsden’s review of Fifty Shades of Grey on Goodreads. Notice how the review takes you through how she experienced the book. As she summarizes the plot and characters’ actions, she in turn offers her own responses to them through embedded gifs. It also makes it that much funnier.
2. Second, you will write a reflection about the process of writing a review using a combination of both text and gifs/images. Your reflection should focus on the decisions that you made when selecting the gifs, why you decided to place them where you did in the text, etc. (see more info below in the ‘How’ section)

This assignment serves several purposes:
1. Consider the interplay between text and images. The exchange between the written text of your review and the gifs that you choose to accompany it create their own unique argument. Consider how your review might change if you wrote the same words but selected different gifs to include. Think about the unique “visual analogies” (as Patkar writes) that your gif choices produce alongside the text that you produce. The use of gifs represents a strategy of interpretation for the reader that others do not (with its own strengths and weaknesses).
2. Think about the affordances of using multimedia in text. Digital writing provides access to a host of multimedia as we create new pieces of text. The use of gifs of familiar people and scenes recontextualizes both the text we produce as well as the gifs themselves. Consider the technical knowledge that is necessary for this assignment and how, even though there are certain affordances permitted by using gifs, they can also potentially act as a tool of exclusion (i.e. people who are not in the know or unfamiliar with the show or reference you use may feel lost by their use).
3. Reflect on communities within communities. Using gifs is a way of not only connecting to your intended audience, but also of speaking to an audience within that audience. As you make connections within your own text for the audience, you are also making arguments about the type of community that you are engaging with through your choice of gifs. Gifs carry their own cultural baggage that exists outside of your essay. For example, the fact that I have chosen gifs from Star Wars, The Daily Show, and Spiderman for this assignment makes an argument on its own. Your reflection essay should touch on this cultural connection and highlight its potential pitfalls.

You will need to complete the following steps for this assignment:
1. Choose an artifact to write a review/critique about. You will first choose an artifact to write your review about. This artifact can be (nearly) anything: a trip you took, a book you read, a video game you hate, a restaurant you liked, a pair of shoes you wore, a visit to the Smithsonian, etc. What is important is that:
a. It is something that you personally experienced
b. It provoked a strong reaction from you (positive or negative)
c. You are comfortable using humor to talk about it (because using gifs is unavoidably humorous)
2. Write your review in a Google document on your ODU Google Drive account. Your review should be about your experience with the artifact. Feel free to be creative with your review. The tone does not need to be as strong of a response as Lumsden’s 50 Shades of Grey review, but it should state an obvious opinion one way or the other (good or bad). Critique the artifact using analysis and techniques that you have learned in other writing classes. Include 6 to 12 gifs within your review. Carefully consider the placement of the gifs alongside of your text and how the layout of the text and gifs look together. Here is a video of how to link your GIF essay and reflection essay:
a. How to set up a Google Doc
i. Go to
ii. Log in with your student email account
iii. Select the ‘New’ button on the left side of the screen
iv. Select ‘Google docs’ from the drop down menu
v. Title your new document ‘Gif Essay – ENGL 307’
1. Note: Google docs saves your work automatically while you work while you are connected to the Internet. There is no save button like in Microsoft Word
vi. Click on the ‘Share’ button in the upper right corner
vii. Click on ‘Advanced’ in the popup that appears
viii. Beside ‘Specific People Can Access,’ click on ‘Change’
ix. Select ‘Anyone at ODU with the link may view’ (this will allow me to see it later)
b. How to add gifs to your review
i. This video gives a quick explanation of how to add gifs to a Google doc
1. Note: This was done using the Google Chrome browser. It may not work the same on other browsers.
ii. gives easy access to thousands of gifs. Searching there is sometimes easier than searching Google. You can still use right click–>copy image address in the same way. If that doesn’t work, click on the gif you want, then click on ‘copy link’ on the right. Then select the ‘gif link’ option and paste it into your Google doc using the Insert->Image->URL function.
3. Write a reflection/response to your gif essay. After you write your review, you will write a reflection/response to the act of composing the gif essay. I recommend that you do the readings for the assignment before writing this so that you have the language, concepts, and ideas about gifs necessary to thoroughly critique your composition process. It’s very important that you include quotations from the readings to support your analysis with evidence of your approach and understanding of gifs. In this reflection you should address the following:
a. How did the act of composing your review with the knowledge that you were going to be embedding gifs alter your act of writing? How did this knowledge reshape your approach the composition? How was it both similar and different from other pieces of writing that you have done?
b. What was your process for writing? Did you write the entire review first and then go select gifs? Did you select gifs as you went along? Did you highlight places in your essay where you planned to use gifs? Why did you you the technique you chose?
c. Think about the search terms that you used when looking for gifs. What kinds of search terms did you use? How did the act of looking through the archives of gifs on the internet affect the way you thought about the acts of writing with gifs?
d. What kinds of affective qualities were you attempting to evoke through the gifs you chose?
e. What were the advantages and disadvantages of writing with the combination of gifs and text?
f. Any other relevant points, topics, or thoughts you had about your writing process in this assignment.
AI usage suggestions for assignment
While your GIF essay should be your own writing (it is about your own experience, after all!), AI can help you with revisions or word suggestions in the final version of your essay. For example, you might write your GIF essay in your own language. Then, prompt Chat GPT to ‘make this paragraph funnier’ and copy and paste a specific paragraph from your essay into Chat GPT. If you choose to use AI assistance in your writing, be sure to include a statement about it at the bottom of your GIF essay (see the full information below in ‘technical specifications).

AI assistance should be avoided when writing the reflection essay, since the essay should be fully about your learning and writing process (although if you used AI in the GIF essay portion, you should discuss it here).

Technical specifications
Below are the technical specifications for the gif review essay and the reflection

Gif review essay
1. Google document
2. 750-1000 words
3. 6-12 gifs
4. 1 inch margins
5. Any font you choose (although nothing too bizarre or hard to read, please)
6. 12 point font size

If you choose to use AI assistance with writing your GIF essay, be sure to add a note at the bottom of the essay that says something like, “I generated this text in part with GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. After generating my own writing and language, I reviewed, edited, and revised the language to my own liking. I used AI assistance in the following ways: [list all of the ways you used AI assistance in your writing]. I take full responsibility for the content of this writing.”

Reflection/response essay
1. Microsoft Word document
2. Name and date in the upper right corner
3. Link to your Google doc gif review at the top of the first paragraph
4. 750-1000 words
5. 1 inch margins
6. Double-spaced
7. 12 point Times New Roman or Calibri font
8. Quotations from the readings to support your arguments/analysis
9. A properly formatted works cited page (MLA or APA style is acceptable)

Upload only the reflection/response essay using the ‘Gif Essay Analysis’ submission link on Canvas. Make sure that the link to your Google doc (the gif essay) is at the top of the reflection essay and that it is shared with anyone at ODU with the link. Here is a video of how to link your GIF essay (from Google docs) to your reflection essay (written in Word):

Your assignment will be evaluated using the following criteria for a total of 200 points:

GIF essay (80 points)
Appropriate topic for GIF essay (10)
Includes 6-12 GIFs (10)
GIF essay tells a personal narrative organized in a logical, satisfying way(30)
Placement of GIFs are effective for the narrative structure (30)

Reflection (120 points)
Discussion of how the act of writing with GIFs shaped the writing process (20)
Discussion search terms (20)
Discussion of affective qualities of writing with GIFs (20)
Effective use of support from the readings (20)
Discussion of advantages/disadvantages of writing with GIFs (20)
Grammar, spelling, and paper formatting (20)

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