Unit 1: Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Unit 1: Rhetorical Analysis Essay

English 106

Improving your rhetorical analysis skills is an important step on the journey to becoming a better, more strategic writer. Rhetorical analysis requires you to successfully examine rhetorical situations and consider what writing tactics do and do not succeed. With practice, you can analyze your own rhetoric and become more purposeful and successful.  

This assignment asks you to consider how and why a specific written text works (or does not work) rhetorically. You will be using the homework readings from the textbook, along with the class resources and discussions about rhetoric and the rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos) as you write your paper. Your analysis should focus on the specific argumentative strategies or elements that the author uses. Your paper should focus on analyzing the text and evaluating its use of rhetoric, not on summarizing the text or presenting your own personal response to the text’s topic or rhetorical strategy.

The Assignment

  • Write an essay in which you analyze one of the following essays from your textbook:
    •  “Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces,” Palfrey, p. 666
    • “Thick of Tongue,” McWhorter, p. 650
    • “Why Funny Animal Videos Are Good for You,” Heath, p. 589
    • “Featuring Disabled Women in Advertisements: he Commodification of Diversity?” Houston, p. 561
    • “What Happens When Toxic Office Behavior Moves Online While Working from Home,” Liu, p. 597
    • Choose a SONG by your favorite artist and break down the rhetorical strategies used by the writer
  • Your paper should be a minimum length of four pages (double-spaced), plus a Works Cited page, and should be formatted in MLA style.
  • To better understand the text you chose, you may need to research it to find out who the intended audience was, who the author is, where the text was published or when it was written, and any other important contextual information.  If you use any information gained from this research in your paper, document it with in-text citations and on the Works Cited page.
  • In CH6, find the section titled: “Composing a Rhetorical Analysis: Reading & Viewing Critically” – respond to the 14 questions that will help you build CONTENT and depth for your paper – the answers to these questions help you reach four pages of content.
  • A successful rhetorical analysis essay will do the following:
  • Describe the rhetorical situation (purpose and original target audience) surrounding the text
  • Accurately (but briefly) summarize the text’s argument
  • Include a clear and precise thesis statement (an analytical claim with reasons about how the text works or does not work), along with organizational cues and patterns to guide its readers
  • Explain and analyze how the author’s specific writing choices help fulfill the author’s purpose  and connect with (or fail to connect with) the target audience
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of how rhetorical appeals are working in the text
  • Support its claims with quotations and/or paraphrases from the text

Planning and Drafting Your Textual Analysis Paper

Feel free to use these steps to help plan and write your paper:

  1. Select a text from the choices given to you and read it multiple times, summarizing its content and annotating as you read.
  2. Review the resources posted in Blackboard on rhetorical elements such as organization, style, appeals (pathos/ethos/logos), delivery, etc. Chapters 2-4 discuss appeals to emotion, character, and facts and logic, and Chapter 6 explains how to write a rhetorical analysis and contains sample essays.
  3. Re-read and, if necessary, research your chosen text to identify its purpose, audience, and context. 
  1. Context:  Where and when did the text originally appear?  What historical background is important in defining this context?  What does the background tell us about reader expectations and reading conventions?
  2. Purpose:  What does the writer want the readers to be able to do, think, feel, or decide after reading the text?  What does the text enable readers to do while reading—compare facts, apply information, implement an action, etc.?
  3. Audience:  Who are the intended readers?  What does the text imply about readers’ knowledge or feelings about the subject?  What sort of relationship does the writer establish with the readers?
  4. Take notes about connections among the rhetorical strategies you find in the text and the text’s purpose and audience. Identify which specific strategies are the most important and prominent in the author’s overall rhetoric. Your prewriting notes about these strategies will form the bulk of your body paragraphs.
  5. Create a thesis statement that provides an overview of your entire paper. Your thesis should analyze how the text uses specific rhetorical strategies to achieve its purpose and/or communicate its message to its audience. As you work on a rough draft, you may need to revise your thesis, but developing it early in the process will give you a solid base upon which to build your rough draft.
  6. Now that you have prewriting notes, you are ready to write a rough draft. (Need an example? See the sample rhetorical analysis essay and the original text it is analyzing at the end of Chapter 6.)

Submission and Grading

You will submit your paper to the final draft link in Blackboard. A grading rubric is attached to the submission link; please review this rubric before submitting your paper. After submitting your paper, review the originality report in SafeAssign to determine whether you need to correct any errors with documentation. You may submit your paper up to three times; your instructor will grade the last file that you upload.

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