Rhetorical Analysis Essay

LA101H – Ben Henderson
Preface: The purpose of this assignment is to apply principles and concepts learned thus far in the course by analyzing the rhetorical situation of a particular rhetorical artifact. Assignment (about 4 pages, double-spaced): Identify a rhetorical artifact (or a closely aligned set of artifacts) that is interesting or complex. This could be something like a speech, essay, or website. Or you could go with something a bit less traditional: a building, art installation, memorial, fashion trend—all of these still are rhetorical artifacts. Bottom line, if it’s making an argument, then you can use it. (To keep things from overlapping with the Rhetorical Analysis Speech, though, please don’t select an advertisement.) Write an analysis that will help your readers understand how the given example of rhetoric is situated in and adapted to its rhetorical context/situation. If the artifact functions in more than one rhetorical situation, you may address one of them or all of them. Your thesis should make a claim about how rhetoric is functioning. As you develop your essay, consider ways in which the topics we’ve discussed in class might inform your analysis. For instance, issues of audience, constraints, ideology, commonplaces, exigence, and kairos all bridge the gap between artifact (text) and situation (context). You’ll want to provide a brief description of your artifact’s salient rhetorical features, either up front or along the way as you develop your analysis. But this textual description should be in the service of your contextual analysis. Also, you should consider whether outside research will enrich your understanding of the context you’ll be discussing. At the end of your analysis, readers should have a richer understanding of the rhetorical dimensions of both the artifact and its rhetorical context, and, especially, the connections between them. Put another way, the analysis should provide a clearer picture of how this specific rhetorical artifact communicates, and/or how rhetoric operates generally in this type of situation. Objectives and Criteria for Success • Be interesting. Go beyond the obvious. • Make a strong claim (thesis) about the contextual dimensions of a given rhetorical artifact. • Demonstrate a strong capacity for rhetorical analysis. • Write in a lively, memorable style. • Expand/challenge/transform the audience’s understanding of the rhetorical situation.

Suggestions for Strong Analysis

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Use good analytical verbs and sentences. Go for depth rather than breadth. You don’t need to say everything that is going on rhetorically in the situation. Be specific. Support your claims with evidence, which could include outside research or unique features of the artifact or rhetorical situation. Cite your sources. (But remember that this is an analysis, not a research paper.) Have a strong, definite conclusion that reviews your claim and findings.

Grading Standards • Strong analysis • Depth of insight into rhetorical functioning • Argument and evidence strength • Writing mechanics

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