Rhetorical Analysis

Essay #1 (4-5 pages of imaginative prose)

Important Dates
2.15 – Peer Response: With group members, determine which text you’ll analyze and the method you’ll use to analyze it. Sign up for texts at the end of class. 2.17 – Peer Response: Bring 1 copy of your Essay #1 rough draft for peer response. 2.22 – Final drafts and invention materials for Essay #1 are due in class.

Purpose and Audience
A rhetorical analysis examines how a text works—how its words, its structure, its ideas connect (or don't connect) with a given audience. Your analysis essay should describe how an author employs certain strategies to communicate her/his purpose and her/his argument for a particular audience in a specific context. In keeping with our class discussions about the relationship between culture, meaning, and understanding, your analysis should also describe and analyze how your personal worldview colors or shapes your analysis of the communication. As you compose your essay, please keep your audience (your classmates, me, and you) in mind. Take Cicero’s words to heart; as a rhetor, your duties are to teach, delight, and move your audience.

Text Selection
In class, we will spend three weeks learning about three different methods of rhetorical analysis, and we will practice applying these methods to different texts (you find these texts on our D2L site). As we learn about different methods, you will compose brief, informal analyses of specific texts (in total, 3 informal analyses). In class on February 15, you will discuss your informal analyses with your classmates, and you’ll select one of these analyses to revise for Essay #1.

Resources to Guide You
While you are writing your informal analyses and working on your final draft of Essay #1, remember to consult the following helpful resources. I will expect everyone to be familiar with them.        Sonja Foss’s chapters on different methods of rhetorical analysis (on D2L) Chapter 10, “Rhetorical Analysis,” A Student’s Guide to First-Year Writing, pp. 209-226 Chapter 7, “Writing Your Rhetorical Analysis,” Writing Public Lives, pp. 121-131 “The Toulmin Model of Argumentation” (on D2L) “Fallacies” (on D2L) “Evaluating Arguments,” Rules for Writers, pp. 371-380 Gideon Burton’s “Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric,” online @ http://rhetoric.byu.edu/

Imagination, Invention, and Drafting
Though we will consider different methods of rhetorical analysis, we will always use the same general approach: we will think about who the author is, the argument s/he is trying to make, the specific audience to whom s/he is directing her/his argument, the strategies s/he is using to persuade the audience, and the larger historical, social, and/or cultural context of the text. Rhetorical strategies might include but are not limited to word choice, level of diction, sentence structure, use of secondary sources, types of examples, use of stories or anecdotes, use of statistics, use of graphs or charts, use of illustration, tone of voice, persona, and so forth. Remember, however, that good ideas can emerge when we take time to notice what is not being communicated in the text:    Who is excluded from participating in this text? How do you know? What counterarguments are not presented in the text? Why? Are important details left out, hidden, or glossed over quickly? Why?

Londie Martin \ First-Year Writing II: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument \ Spring 2011

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Drafting
While I will not prescribe a specific outline or order for your essay, I will ask you to compose an essay that attends to each of the following criteria:  Briefly summarizes or describes the text (remember to spend most of your time analyzing, not summarizing)  Introduces important orienting information early in the essay (author/advertiser/speaker, title/product, original publication information, etc.)  Thoroughly describes the text’s rhetorical situation (author, audience, context, and purpose)  Identifies and creatively analyzes the presence of specific, identifiable rhetorical strategies For more information on organizing your rhetorical analysis, I strongly suggest you read Chapter 7, “Writing Your Rhetorical Analysis,” in Writing Public Lives.

MLA Citation Style & Research
In order to fully analyze your text, you will need to do a little outside research. For example, if you choose to analyze an essay, your audience will want to know more about the publication in which the essay was originally published. (Was it a scholarly journal, a newspaper, a magazine, etc.?) Yet another example: If you choose to analyze a speech, your audience will want to know more about where the speech took place, the occasion for the speech, and who was in attendance. Once you’ve collected your research, be sure to create a Works Cited page and incorporate in-text citations into your essay according to MLA citation style. To accomplish this, you can consult your copy of Rules for Writers or the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) at: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

Personal Narrative
Finally, it is important to remember that there are multiple ways to respond to and interpret a text. Your essay will describe the interpretation of one important reader—you. Thus, you can help your audience better understand your analysis by taking some time to reflect on how you see the world. In other words, how are personal experiences, values, and beliefs actively shaping the way you view and interpret the possible meanings of a text? Each of us brings a unique life history to the texts that we read, and part of your job in this essay is to help your readers thoughtfully consider the perspective through which you are analyzing a specific text. One way to help readers understand your analysis is to include a brief but meaningful personal anecdote or story that begins to shed some light on you—your personality and your ways of seeing the world and the text.

Londie Martin \ First-Year Writing II: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument \ Spring 2011

2|P a g e

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