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No writing takes place in a vacuum; instead, it’s situated in a particular place and time, written by someone and aimed at a particular audience. This assignment asks you not only to craft a text of your own, but to break apart another text to try and uncover how and why that text was written. You are, in a way, a rhetorical sleuth.

How will I write a rhetorical analysis?

In class, we will review rhetorical appeals and practice skills of rhetorical analysis on example texts. You will then choose one of the following texts from your 111 Reader on which to write your rhetorical analysis:

-“Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” (p. 66)

-“Stone Soup” (p. 136)

-“Wonder Woman” (p. 255)

-“Under the Influence” (p. 242)

Make time to skim through more than one of these texts. You will find the essay much easier to write when you like and understand the text you’re analyzing! As you read through your text, brainstorm and take notes on the rhetorical tools that you see being used. Where is the author using pathos (the tool that engages emotion), logos (the tool whereby the reader is convinced due to the persuasiveness of the message itself), ethos (the tool whereby the reader is convinced due to the author’s credibility/ethics/trustworthiness), or Kairos (the timeliness of the text)? You should also think about the rhetorical situation— audience, the tone, the topic, the author, etc. — in relation to the piece. For example, a frustrated tone might be a way that the author is utilizing pathos.

After you have gathered some information and notes, you will want to begin thinking about the connections and asking yourself what you think the author’s purpose was in writing their particular text. For example, if you noticed that the author used a lot of humor, you might realize that humor is effective for reaching her audience of middle school students. Once you take notes on these connections, you are ready to start drafting.

Your audience for this essay consists of a reader who is somewhat familiar with your text. They have read the source but don’t have it memorized and may need to be refreshed on the finer points of the text. For example, if the author of the above-mentioned essay is a comedian, don’t assume your audience already knows this information, but remind them that X is a comedian which is a major reason she uses jokes to try and (effectively) reach middle schoolers. By the end of your essay, the audience should know 1) what the text is about as well as 2) why you think the author wrote their text and 3) how effectively (or not) it communicates its goal to its audience. This info. should comprise the meat of your thesis.

What do I need to do to be successful?

In order to write a successful rhetorical analysis, there are a few things I require from you:

-Demonstrate an understanding of rhetorical tools (ethos, pathos, logos, and Kairos) and the rhetorical situation (author, audience, tone, topic, purpose, etc.) through inclusion and correct application.

-Have a thesis statement which makes an argument about the authors’ purposes in creating their text and the author’s effectiveness.

-Show an awareness of the appropriate audience.

-Write 1100-1300 words on your topic. This time, please adhere to the word limit.

-Include one of the above sources of your choosing and cite the source according to MLA.

-Avoid additional, outside sources.

-Correctly format and submit an essay that adheres to MLA guidelines, including a works cited page, title, correct font, etc.

-Avoid 1st and 2nd person (with the exception of 1st person in the hook), and use standard, American English (i.e. no contractions or informal language).

-Attend (on time) and participate in writing workshops with an essay draft of the correct length (1100 words).

What skills does the rhetorical analysis give me?

The rhetorical analysis is designed to meet Student Learning Outcomes 1-10. A full description these outcomes can be found on your syllabus.

Analysis of rhetoric is one of the most important pieces of writing we will do in this class. It enables you to not only read a text, but investigate a text and to think critically in a way that “passive reading” doesn’t encourage. After this unit, you’ll find yourself asking why author has shaped a text certain way, looking for motives or biases, and asking how things could have been done differently.

Submission: Essay 2 Rhetorical Analysis is due ­­­on the date assigned before the start of class. The essay should be submitted online through Blackboard’s SafeAssign in a .doc or .docx Microsoft Word document. Late papers are allowed up to three days late, after which time they will no longer be accepted, per the syllabus.

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