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WR 121: English Composition. Artifact Analysis

Tips for choosing an artifact

young man with short brown hair looking through a magnifying glass

You will spend several weeks in WR 121 doing an in-depth rhetorical analysis of an artifact.  It is worth taking some time to search and browse lots of potential artifacts before you settle on one.  

Your artifact should:

1. Spark genuine curiosity, interest or wonder for you.

2. Be rich with meaning.

3. Be specific and concrete.

Your WR 121 instructor probably gave you some additional guidelines about the types of artifact you should choose, but you have a great deal of freedom and a lot to choose from!

Start with things you notice in your daily life. Things that you see, that people send you, that you read or that you hear that spark questions, curiosity or confusion in you -- these things are potentially good artifacts to analyze.  Keeping your mind open as you read, watch, and listen is a good first step.

You can also go out and browse different types of texts and artifacts.  Again, keeping your mind open and focusing on what sparks genuine curiosity for you is important. 

Below are some collections of clips, texts, images and more to browse:

Image credit: Some rights reserved by andercismo (flickr)


Broad Topics

Science & Social Science

If you have to use scholarly or peer-reviewed sources, you'll find your path is easier if you choose a topic popular with researchers and experts.  One way to find topics like that is to browse through press releases and news items about new and interesting research studies.


Current Issues & Policies

Opposing Viewpoints

Use this database to browse for topics with multiple perspectives.  Each entry includes an overview of the issues, and links to resources that represent different points of view.

Be aware that some of the controversies in Opposing Viewpoints are more one-sided than they appear.  For example, even if 96% of the people writing on an issue believe that a law should stay the same, and only 4% believe that there should be a change -- Opposing Viewpoints will make it look as if opinions are evenly divided.  After you identify a topic in this database, you need to do more research to find out how much weight you should give each perspective.

Politics & Government


Ads & Advertising



Music & Spoken Word Audio