Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

WRIT 110 College Writing: WRIT 110 E

Resources for Background & Context

Print Resources for Background & Context Information

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Watch this short video from Hartness Library at Vermont Tech for information on primary and secondary sources.



Identify a specific object/image/artifact/icon in any visual medium that has been repurposed (remodeled, represented, remade, reused, reclaimed) in a new context (such as an advertisement, a piece of art, a monument, a product design, an article of clothing, a bumper sticker, a tattoo, some graffitti, etc.). How does the act of repurposing shed new light on the intended or unintended meaning of the object?

In an essay of 1900 - 2100 words, develop a thesis that makes a specific argument about how and why the object is being repurposed, addressing the significance of its repurposing. Support your claims with evidence, and explain the specific, significant similarities and differences that you observe between the original and repurposed object.

Think of your essay as building on the foundation of detailed analysis of at least two images (the object in its original context and the object in one or more repurposed contexts). Observe, describe, interpret, explore, and argue about the object through pointing out details in the images. In short, perform a thoughtful, sophisticated rhetorical analysis of these images.

Include images of both the original and repurposed object in your paper. Strategically insert them in your essay document. If you're not working with images, you are encouraged to find other ways to make your objects accessible to your reader - for instance, if you're working with a YouTube video, you could embed a hyperlink into your text.

Stephanie Jennis's "Pond Over a Bridge of Commercialism" is an example of what one student has done with this assignment and can serve as a model.

Here are some questions that may help spur your analysis and critical thinking:

  • Who created the object in its original form and context? What was its creator's intended purpose or meaning? How do particular elements of the object achieve that purpose or convey that meaning?
  • Who is repurposing the object in its new form and context? What was the repurposer's intended purpose or meaning? How do particular elements of the object achieve that purpose or convey that meaning?
  • What audiences are capable of understanding or making meaning of the object (consider both its original and new forms)? How do you know this? In what interpretive context do you make meaning of the object and its repurposing?
  • What underlying assumptions are necessary to understand the intended meaning of the object/repurposing?
  • Which of the object's contradictions or complexities are revealed when it is repurposed in this new context? Why had they been concealed/unseen before? How and why does the new context reveal those complexities?
  • Does the way that the object is being repurposed imply a critique of the object? Is one of the goals of repurposing the object to reveal complexities, contradictions, or assumptions about the object that had been overlooked? Is so, why and how? And what is significant, interesting or important about this critique and the things it reveals?
  • If the object itself isn't being critiqued, is its new or old context being critiqued? Is its new or old audience being critiqued? Is something else associated with the object being critiqued? What is significant/interesting/important about this critique and what it reveals/conveys?
  • Has this object ever been repurposed before? How so? Is the repurposed form you've chosen to explore in conversation with any other repurposed forms? What's the significance of those connections? What does this new form add to the conversation?


Your project begins with finding an object that shows up in at least two different images, probably at different times and places.

In order to articulate the significance of the object's original and repurposed meaning, you will need to research the history of the object and the rhetorical situations into which it has been placed. Thus, you will need to seek out sources that provide background information about your object, such as who created it, and when, why, and how it has been used.

Use what you discover through this research to flesh out the implications of your analysis of the images and the object you are writing about. Your final draft should include 4 - 5 sources, one or two of which should be a book or article you found through the library's catalog.


  • The object and repurposing that you choose must be very specific.
  • Generally, it is best to work with images, but it is possible that your repurposing could occur in a movie, television episode, YouTube video, or song, etc. If you choose a topic that does not involve images, let the instructor know.
  • This page of the Purdue OWL site has useful information for how to cite images, etc.
  • Be sure that you find the actual creator and original context of the object and its repurposing so that your claims about the significance of the repurposing are rooted in facts, not false assumptions. (While it can be useful to search for images using tools like Pinterest and Google's "image search" function, those tools do not often link the image to its actual author/creator, so you will have to hunt around to find its true origins.)



Sample Search for Context Information

Using Academic Search Premier, Art Full Text, and SocIndex through EBSCO Articles, locate articles that provide context behind both the traditional view of princesses and concepts around the re-mixed notion of princesses.  Click on the link to see a search sample. Looking at the context of Disney Princesses re-mixed. Why? Current message? New message? Alternate message?

Books: The Disney Middle Ages ; The Princess Story Modeling the Feminine in Twentieth-Century American Fiction and Film


Using Academic Search Premier, Art Full Text, Business Source Complete, and SocIndex through EBSCO Articles.

Starry Night painting with McDonalds Sign

What was Van Gogh's message with the original painting? What is the message of the re-mix? Check out McDonaldization of Society & McDonaldization Revisited. What other message might be in the remixed painting?