CAN Assignment 4: Reflections Post Tutor Feedback

What an interesting assignment! It is so long since I wrote anything like this. I am accustomed to business writing but academic writing is very different. I learned so much. My Tutor was extremely helpful. He came up with a host of useful ideas. Thanks!

I wrote my first version (or first draft as he kindly put it :)) to explain Rowland Barthes’ ideas and then apply them to the image in a kind of storytelling style. I learned that I could assume the reader’s prior knowledge of (say) Barthes’ ideas. I also learned about an academic style of essay writing, namely:

I will show
I have shown

Before starting version two, I belatedly read OCA’s paper on academic essay writing. The primary point I got was, in the absence of a specified essay title, I should pose a question. I decided to discuss whether the tone of KFC’s apology influenced the effectiveness of the apology. I also read Liz Jobey’s essay on Diane Arbus in ‘Singular Images’ (Howarth, 2005). The major take from this was a realisation of how much research goes into writing of this sort. As it happens, I did a lot of research for this image – it dealt with a business problem which is of interest to me.

It took me a while to grapple with Roland Barthes’ ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ essay (Barthes and Heath, 1990). Initially, I found the language and the concepts impenetrable. But having read it ten times, the issues became more apparent to me. I decided to follow Barthes’ thought process regarding image selection. Picking an image that is an advert simplifies the exercise since the intention of the originator is unambiguous. In this case, rather than trying to sell something the advert simply setouts an apology. Therefore the purpose of the advert is clear.

So what have I learnt? That starting an essay like this is incredibly difficult. I spent ages writing initial paragraphs only to throw them on the floor. But once I got going, the words began to flow. I need more practice, that’s for sure. I haven’t decided if handwriting or typing text is best for me. I wish I could corral my thoughts, thereby enabling dictation. I used dictation at work, but in an academic setting, it seems to be more difficult. I’ve learned it takes me about a day to write 1000 words accurately.

In conclusion, I’ve enjoyed this assignment. But it feels as though I’ve spent more time reading and writing than doing photography recently; that’s very enjoyable and challenging, but I’m looking forward to taking my camera out again.


Barthes, R. and Heath, S. (1977). Image, music, text. London: Fontana, pp.142-148.

Howarth, S. (2005). Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs. London: Tate Publishing, pp.67-76.

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