p1: Defining Berger’s Project

In this, your first brief and informal essay for this course, I’d like you to define John Berger’s project in writing Ways of Seeing.

I’d like you to base what you have to say on your reading of the first three essays in Ways of Seeing. We’ve  spent the last few classes talking about Berger’s project in writing each of these three essays considered as individual pieces. Your task in this essay is a little more complex. I want you to consider the three essays as a group. What ideas, terms, themes, ambitions connect these three pieces? What is Berger trying to do in writing this book as a whole?

In defining Berger’s project, you’ll want to make the three critical moves we’ve discussed in class:

  • In your own words, describe what Berger is trying to do or accomplish  as writer.
  • identify several keywords and concepts from his text.
  • Point to some key examples he offers of his thinking.

For the purposes of this assignment, I’d like you to identify some keywords or images from each of the first three essays, and to quote a more extended example from at least two of them.

While it’s possible that you may end up re-using some of what you write here in your first longer essay for this course, the principle aim of this assignment is simply to offer you some practice in writing critical prose, to give you a feel for the genre. I will grade your essay with a √ (good) or √– (late, hurried, poorly edited, wildly off the mark). And so while I will expect you put some real care and imagination into your work, you shouldn’t feel that you have to get Berger “right.”


Aim to write an essay of about 500-600 words. If your piece runs longer, that’s not a problem. There is no prescribed style. You don’t have to try to sound like a professor. Write in your own voice. I want to get a sense of what you sound like when you are talking about books and ideas.

I do expect you to compose and edit your piece with care. Make your writing as lively and clear as you can. Proofread. When you quote Berger, note the page that the words come from. For example:

As Berger notes, “When a painting is put to use, its meaning is either modified or totally changed” (24).

Otherwise, at this point, you don’t have to worry about documentation, since we are all writing about the same book.

Think of a good title for your essay. Type it, your name, the assignment (p1), and due date (2/20), at the top of the first page of your essay. Create a running head that numbers your pages.

Use this formula to title your document: <lastname p1.docx>. Post your finished piece to your Dropbox folder. by 10:00 am on Thurs, 2/20. I will post my comments on your piece to that same folder.


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