E. Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical Analysis Assignment Sheet A
created by:
Patricia Warman

Unit #1: Rhetorical Analysis Essay

“Analysis is the activity of separating something into parts and determining how these parts function to create the whole. When you analyze, you examine a text, an object, or a body of data to understand how it is structured or organized and its effectiveness or validity. Most academic writing, thinking, and reading involve analysis.” – from Work in Progress: A Guide to Academic Writing and Revising, pg. 370

For this assignment, you will write a rhetorical analysis of “A Long Line of Vendidas,” an essay by Cherrie Moraga. Your essay will take the form of an argument in which you assess the rhetorical effectiveness of the piece based on your analysis of the rhetorical appeals used. Your audience is other FIU composition students and instructors. In addition to providing accurate analysis, you’ll need to demonstrate authority, as evidenced by your understanding of the subject matter material as well as your use of rhetorical appeals.

Evaluate how the writer makes her argument heard. First, you will need to identify the genre, purpose and audience of the work. Then explore how the Moraga uses Aristotle’s ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade her audience. Point to specific passages that employ these methods of appeal. Note that this assignment does not ask you to write about whether you agree or disagree with the argument’s major claims or ideas. Instead, you are writing about how the Moraga builds the argument– is it persuasive? Does it use enough evidence? Does it use certain appeals to connect with the audience? How? Quote directly from the work to show us how the writer uses rhetorical strategies. If the strategies seem unsuccessful to you, then explain why and discuss what other rhetorical strategies might strengthen the argument. Consider and discuss the way(s) each section of the essay functions to support the greater whole, i.e. the essay’s significance.

I will look for the following in your essay:
•Clear thesis and a correlating thesis-driven structure
•Logical progression and organization of thoughts
•Smooth transitions between ideas/ paragraphs
•Ability to enter into a dialogue with the author of a text (citing from the text, etc.)
•Proof of strong, critical reading, thinking, and writing skills
•Application of rhetorical modes of reading, writing, and thinking
•In-depth analysis of the work, focused on the 3 methods of persuasion
•An understanding of how the writer is responding to a specific socio-historical context
•An examination of how the writer’s language or style works to persuade the audience
•Use of appropriate college-level spelling, grammar and mechanics
•MLA format with either MLA or APA citations
•Length: 5 pages + Works Cited

By working on this assignment, you will achieve the following objectives:
•Analyze written texts focusing on the writer’s purposes and textual strategies
•Analyze rhetorical strategies in professional texts and show an understanding of how writers respond to their historical/cultural context
•Engage in productive peer review workshops
•Respond thoughtfully and critically to the professional texts assigned for reading in class

Rhetorical Assignment Sheet B
created by Jeff Wehr

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Instructions

Target Essay Summary and Tentative Thesis Statement Due to turnitin.com Monday, January 23rd – Beginning of Class
First (Full) Draft Due to turnitin.com Monday, January 30th – Beginning of Class
Final Draft Due to turnitin.com Monday, February 6th – Beginning of Class

GENRE
A closed form, thesis-based rhetorical analysis essay is a critique; the text summarizes then analyzes the rhetoric of a target text (or other forms of rhetoric like print ads, TV shows, films, etc.) in support of the author’s stated view on the success of the piece in reaching the intended audience.

PURPOSE
This essay assignment is designed to strengthen your ability to summarize and rhetorically analyze a text, develop your own views about the text’s rhetorical effectiveness (taking into consideration the relationship between writer, content, and reader), and provide evidence for those views in an organized paper. This will in turn help you become aware of these rhetorical elements when engaged in your own writing.

AUDIENCE
FIU composition students and instructors who have not read the piece you will be analyzing.

TASK
Write a minimum 1000 word Rhetorical Analysis that clearly states and argues a specific view about the rhetorical effectiveness of another’s written work based on the rhetorical strategies that author used. This is a “rhetorical critique” as defined by Guide to Writing on page 368: “A strong response as rhetorical critique analyzes a text’s rhetorical strategies and evaluates how effectively the author achieves his or her intended goals.”

This assignment does not ask you to necessarily focus on whether you agree or disagree with the author’s major claims or ideas. Instead, you are writing about how the writer builds the argument–is it persuasive towards the target audience? Does the argument use enough evidence? Does the argument use certain appeals to connect with the audience? How? Quote, paraphrase, or summarize directly from the essay to give evidence on how the writer uses rhetorical strategies. If the author’s strategies seem unsuccessful to you, then explain why and discuss what other rhetorical strategies might strengthen the argument.

In addition to providing accurate analysis, you’ll need to demonstrate authority, as evidenced by your understanding of the rhetorical elements in the essay, as well as your use of rhetorical strategies to persuade your point.

Your essay should include the correct MLA format for in-text citations and a Works Cited page listing of the essay you analyzed. As per your syllabus, the paper should be double spaced and use 12pt Times New Roman Font.

TOPICS
Choose one of the following essays from Guide to Writing to analyze:

“Fighting for Our Lives: Metaphors: We Are What We Speak” by Deborah Tannen, (pages 824-832).
“Closing My Eyes as I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience” by Peter Elbow, (pages 832-851).
“The Essential Delay: When Writer’s Block Isn’t” by Donald M. Murray, (pages 852-857).
“Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood” by Richard Rodriguez, (pages 143-151).
“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, (pages 152-156)

STRATEGIES
To help form a thesis, read the text multiple times while making notes and marking in the margins. Each time you read the essay ask yourself problematic questions about…

The text’s purpose (explicit or implied thesis) and audience.
The text’s genre.
The author’s style.
The appeal to logos, the logic of the argument.
The author’s use of evidence.
The appeal to ethos (credibility) and the credibility of the author.
The author’s inclusion of opposing views.
The appeal to pathos (emotion and values).
The author’s angle of vision (perspective).
The author’s tone
The author’s diction (word choice.)
What the author may have left out, and why.

Feel free to refer to page 369 of chapter 12 for further guidance on asking good problematic questions about the rhetoric of your chosen essay.

Once you establish the author’s/speaker’s purpose (what is he or she trying to persuade the audience is true?), decide whether or not the author is successful in accomplishing this by analyzing the rhetorical elements he or she used. Once you have formulated a problematic question, pose an answer—this could be your working thesis. Then find evidence from the piece to support it.

GRADING

This is the rubric we will use to evaluate your paper:

Introduction

5

pts.

4%

Summary

10

pts.

8%

Thesis

15

pts.

12%

Support (Reasoning)

15

pts.

12%

Evidence (Examples)

15

pts.

12%

Unity

15

pts.

12%

Coherence

15

pts.

12%

Style

15

pts.

12%

Conclusion

10

pts.

8%

MLA

10

pts.

8%

TOTAL:

125

pts.

Questions you want to ask yourself about your draft to help you meet the grading expectations:

CONTENT
Does the introduction grab and make the reader want to read on?
Did I accurately summarize the target essay’s purpose, main points, and audience?
Did I assess the target essay’s persuasiveness in a clear, easy to find thesis?
Are the key rhetorical strategies within the essay identified, and examples given? Did I use the concepts and terminology from the unit?
Is the effectiveness of these strategies assessed? Do they logically support my main points and/or thesis?
Do I provide enough evidence from the target essay to support all my claims?
Does the conclusion have a strong and clear purpose? (See page 615 on conclusions)

ORGANIZATION (UNITY & COHERENCE)
Does each point I make logically connect with the thesis?
Is each point indicated by a topic sentence which leads into a paragraph of detail?
Does each paragraph develop one supporting point?
Do I need to give evidence I’ve presented more explanation and context as to how it supports a point?
Does each sentence and paragraph logically build from or follow the previous?

STYLE & MLA
Can each sentence be understood the first time it is read?
Is the voice appropriate for the stated audience?
Is the tone (writer’s attitude towards the topic) appropriate for the stated audience?
Are there grammar and mechanics errors?
Is the essay formatted properly to MLA?

Works Cited
Ramage, John D., John C Bean, and June Johnson. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing: Customized for Florida International University, Third Edition. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009. Print


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