Postsecret Assignment

Assignment Description

printable version of the assignment (.pdf)

The goal of this assignment is to gain analytical familiarity with semiotic and multimodal theories and begin to create multimodal texts. We will be doing this through an analysis of two blogs that engage/critique pop-culture, politics, gender, war—too many facets of society to list. The blogs are:

  • Post Secret: The blog is described as “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.” The blog is updated every Sunday. Below is an archive of Post Secret images starting the week of Jan 23, 2010. You may also use postcards found in the Internet Archive or the Post Secret Archive.
  • Legofesto: The blog describes Legofesto as “a politics-junkie and news-hound, with a thing for [L]ego. This is not a blog for children.” The blog is updated whenever Legofesto creates a new Lego scene.

For this assignment: Using the semiotic and multimodality theories we have learned over the first four weeks of the semester, I would like you to analyze Post Secret OR Legofesto to make a point about how the interplay of visuals and/or alphabetic texts help construct the commentary being made. To complete your analysis, you may focus on one of the following:

  • One particular Post Secret postcard or Legofesto image,
  • A series of related Post Secret postcards or Legofesto images, or
  • The Post Secret blog or Legofesto blog as a single text itself.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are many ways to approach this assignment, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Include the image(s) in your paper at points in the paper where it makes sense to have them appear. That is, don’t just put them at the end.
  • Make sure that all theories you use are clearly defined and used appropriately.
  • Think about what the images ask you to know prior to their analysis (just as we noted the first day of class with the magazine covers). LegoFesto helps the reader quite a bit by including text and links relating to the scenes she depicts. Sometimes, Frank, the creator of Post Secret, will post email responses to individual postcards. Feel free to use them, as well.
  • Please use outside sources (scholarly preferred) to support your ideas where needed. For example, if you’re analyzing a Post Secret postcard that includes a commentary about the pharmaceutical industry, you might find some scholarly sources that help you make and build on your points.
  • You could also consider the participatory nature of the blogs. Does, for example, the fact that these secrets are selected by one person to be posted online change the way we understand them?
  • Use APA (6th edition) citation format.
  • For Legofesto, you might try juxtaposing the scenes she depicts in Lego with photographs of the events, such as:

Specifics and Due Dates

Page Length: 6 – 8 pages of text (not including images), double-spaced, Times New Roman, font size 12, 1” margins
Due date: Feb 25; email the document to BW by 11:00pm.

Post Secret postcards

from January 24, 2010, January 31, 2010

Hey everyone,

Over the weekend I had a run-in with an avid PostSecret follower - I'll call her "Jen." Jen is a delightful woman who has been keeping up with PostSecret for a while now, and she flipped out a little when she found out that I was the head intern (thanks for making me feel cool, Jen!). We got to talking more in-depth about this elaborate art project, and she revealed that, about a year ago, she had read a secret on the blog that she thought must have been written to her. She said she stared at the secret and started to weep. "I couldn't figure out if I was crying because the secret was written for me ... or because it wasn't."

Although she kept the secret private, it was obvious that it touched her very deeply. Her story is not the first I've heard of PostSecret's impact on someone's life. Another woman wrote in to Frank explaining that she had met her boyfriend of three years through the project. Although they lived over 1500 miles apart and had only ever conversed online, he bought her a ticket to one of the PostSecret events, and she drove all the way across the country to meet him. They have been together ever since.

Still other confessions have included emotionally-distant siblings reconnecting over the project, PostSecret community members donating money to a single mother's Christmas funds for her children, and those who have halted their plans of suicide after connecting with another fan. Hearing these stories or reading such secrets gives me goosebumps every time - and in the month that I've been here, the hair on my arms has raised quite a bit.

So what I request from you, faithful secret holders, are your stories. Does anyone have an exceptional tale of how PostSecret has influenced or changed your life? Fans and followers are the ones that make this project so magnificent and heartfelt, and I know there must be some incredible stories out there. If so, please contact me at The stories will be shared immediately with Frank as well, and may find their way into the new PostSecret play!

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your stories.


PS: Here is an example of what we're looking for, from an email that Frank received a few days ago.

Dear Frank,

Recently my mother and I attended your speaking event at my college. We've enjoyed PostSecret books together and looking online every week. She revealed to me on our way to this event, that she too had a secret. I didn't think anything of it... we all have secrets, don't we?

We shared many laughs and a few tears while you spoke, but as soon as you invited people to come up to the microphones to share their own stories, the first young lady who got up, told us of how at the age of 18 her abusive boyfriend had forced her to have an abortion and it had opened her eyes to the amount of love a mother has for their child.

I could hear my mother's crying gasp as I turned to her. She was looking up with tears streaming down her face, she whispered, "That's my secret." I couldn't hear anyone else coming to the microphone after that first young lady. We held each other and just cried...


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