Prompt: A rhetorical analysis evaluates how an author (or artist) attempts to reach, maybe even influence, an audience. Locate a visual/oral/verbal text about borders that you deem interesting (and potentially persuasive) and analyze it according to the way the text uses rhetorical effects and strategies to make its argument. Use specific textual evidence to establish a general argument (i.e., thesis) about how the text “works.” You should not simply paraphrase or summarize what the rhetor says or composes; rather, your goal is to provide a way of understanding the measure of persuasive effect by analyzing the rhetorical situation.
To do this, first identify the rhetor, intended audience, message, and intended purpose of the text. This information will set the foundation for the rest of your analysis. Next, explain how(and how effectively) the text
- appeals to its intended audience;
- employs the available means (the rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, pathos; the rhetorical methods of development; and visual and/or aural elements, if applicable);
- uses good reasons (that are ethical, practical, and aesthetic); and
- anticipates or acknowledges counterarguments in the service of reaching its intended audience.
You should go beyond description of the rhetorical elements of the text to look at howthose elements work to achieve the text’s purpose. Your ideas should be developed through textual evidence and analysis of that evidence. Finally, evaluate the measure of persuasive effect—decide whether or not the text constitutes a fitting response (of informing, explaining, motivating, identifying, etc.). Make an argument regarding the aspect of the text’s rhetoric that is most interesting, revealing, and/or important.
Process: As a first step, propose a text for analysis by October 15, explaining what makes this text an interesting subject (i.e., what is not rhetorically obvious) for rhetorical analysis.
As you are drafting, consider how you are supporting your claims about the text. Refer to specific moments in the text (using quotes and other concrete details) as evidence for your explanation of how the rhetor uses rhetorical strategies. At the same time, consider the balance between description and analysis in your writing. Describe moments in the text in order to make your argument, but remember that your job is not to summarize the text for your readers. Your job is to evaluate the text by analyzing these details and making an argument about their rhetorical effect. After drafting, revise and edit. Consider carefully the organization and coherence of your piece. Develop clear paragraphs that support your thesis organized around a definite topic. Rough drafts are due for peer review on October 18, final drafts are due October 25.
Format: Your final draft should be 3-4 pages (double-spaced, TNR font, 1” margins). When citing your outside source(s), follow MLA format.
Grading Criteria: Your essay should
- make a claim (a thesis) about an interesting, potentially persuasive text;
- identify the rhetor, intended audience, message, and intended purpose of the text;
- assess the text’s employment of available means, good reasons, and counterarguments;
- evaluate the text as a fitting response through sufficient textual evidence and analysis; and
- craft sophisticated, purposeful, and clear paragraphs and sentences.