Contextual Analysis of the Stanford Room - Option #1


This assignment asks you to switch your attention from

spoken rhetoric and to turn your concentration to an analysis

of the arguments and goals revealed in  art and artifacts, and also in the museum's organization and arrangement of the Stanford Room within the Cantor Museum.



Your task is to write a paper in which you analyze the way the overall  arrangement and/or individual art objects found within the Stanford room argue for an interpretation of the Stanford family,  and to analyze the way this arrangement and choice of artifacts impacts you as the audience.  You will inform your analysis by reading and integrating  the article about the Stanfords by Howe ( handout) , and also by referring to the Tompkins essay," A Visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum." You may also integrate quotes from the museum docent who will discuss with us the Stanford room and its organization and development .



The paper will include the following components:


Part I. Your original notes , taken as you study the room or

several objects in the room. In these notes, you will respond to the following questions:


What view of the Stanford family dominates in the room?

Which individual objects seem to grab your attention the most?

How do the individual written descriptions of one or two pieces of art describe the Stanfords?(Pick one person or one aspect of Stanford life to focus on

for your paper,and take detailed notes about the art and artifacts you will be discussing.)

How does the color and lighting impact your perception of Stanford


Which aspects of the Stanford family are stressed?

How are lighting and placement of objects used to highlight

objects or effects?

Which aspects of Stanford family history are missing ( see Howe)?

Do you find the room appealing, or not? Why ?

What dominant emotion do you carry away from this room?




Part II. Your 4-5 page typed essay, completing the task

outlined above by organizing your thoughts from your notes into

a coherent analysis with a clear thesis, clear topic sentences, vivid

descriptions, and accurate quotes from the two essays.


 You will need to address two topics in the paper:

1.The overall impact of the Stanford room as a whole;




2. the impact of one part of the room, for example, the materials

about Jane Stanford; the materials concerning Leland Jr.; or

the presentation of Leland Stanford, Sr. You could also choose to

examine one topic more closely, such as the treatment of the railroad

or the representation of the trotting farm.


Your final paper will address this smaller collection within the context

of the entire Stanford Room, examining the arguments, biases, completeness or lack of completeness in the presentation of Stanford family history. ( See above)




Grading criteria:


I will be looking for:


    An interesting introduction and clear thesis

    Strong topic sentences which organize each paragraph around one main idea

    Evidence and direct quotations to back up each assertion

    Discussion of each point you make - your own analysis of each point

    Integration of both the Howe and Tompkins articles - direct quotes and         analysis of their points integrated into your paper

    An interesting conclusion which uses concrete language and/or imagery          while summarizing your points in interesting and    original terms.