rhetorical analysis

Rhetoric” is colloquially defined as the process of writing effectively. Elements that make up a text’s persuasiveness, such as appeals to logic or emotion outlined by Aristotle, or respecting one’s opposition in ways defined by Rogers, are usually considered, therefore, to berhetorical strategies.” The employment of these rhetorical strategies, theoretically, enhance the likelihood that you’d convince someone of the point you’re making (at least within the goals designated by the argumentation model).

Our goals is to be able to recognize in-text, contextual examples of these rhetorical strategies and respond to the author’s effective (or ineffective) use of them. As such, using the lessons of Aristotle and Rogers, you are tasked to rigorously evaluate the persuasiveness of a text based on its adherence to these aforementioned rhetorical strategies (or its lack thereof).

To best facilitate a quality paper, this text, similar to previously completed assignments, will not be assigned to you, and will instead be chosen by you. It can be whatever you like, though I think a blog post or an op-ed newspaper article make the best texts for this assignment. As such, the only real parameters I place on your text selection are that (1) it contains some type of argument that you can actually develop an evaluation toward and that (2) it contains an argument that is complex enough to where an analysis of its qualities would fill a paper of this length. You are not allowed to pick the same text you chose for the Critical Summary or Argument Analysis assignments.

Though the direction of your rhetorical analysis will blossom out according to the material you choose, especially whether it’s more Aristotelian or Rogerian in nature, I will provide some general guidelines/suggestions below to assist you in the analytic process and to help you ensure you’re fulfilling the needs of this assignment:

  1. Compose a short but thorough introduction that (1) outlines the publication information of the text including the author’s name, where it was published, and its title; (2) provides a brief 1-2 sentence summary giving a brief overview of the text’s main details; (3) contains a descriptive thesis that identifies what you find persuasive or not persuasive about it.
  2. Cite whether the argument is more Rogerian or Aristotelian in nature. Identify what exactly that means to you, and cite a few surface elements of the text to support that point.
  3. Examine what kinds of evidence the author uses to support their argument. Does the text use a lot of logical appeals? Statistics, facts, and figures? Or does the text use mostly emotional appeals, such as the use of humor, threats, and/or flattery? How balanced does the text feel with regard to logos and pathos, and how does that affect the text’s persuasiveness in your view?
  4. Review the use of ethos. Does the text cite outside sources to support its argument? Are these sources considered an authority in their subject area? Is that subject area relevant to the topic at hand? How does this affect the author’s trustworthiness?
  5. Review the tone of the text and the author’s persona. Are they using language appropriate to the conversation? Are they very specific in their language, using direct phrasing and modal qualifiers? Or do they make a lot of vague, non-specific statements that seem to trail off nowhere? Do any of your answers to the questions to #3 and #4 help them appear more informed, educated, and/or persuasive?
  6. Make a suggestion or two about how the argument could be improved, citing examples from the passage to support your point.
  7. Complete your essay with a summative conclusion, illustrating most major points of your essay.

Whatever form your rhetorical analysis takes, I will assess your essay based on the depth of your analysis, the organization of your paper, and college-level expectations for grammar, editing, and style. Your essay should be at least 1000 words in length, written in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, adhering to all MLA documentation formatting rules. Your essay must include a works cited page with an entry indicating where you found the text. When uploading a copy of your essay, be sure it is in a Word-compatible format: DOCX or PDF work the best. Any student that uploads an unreadable format or an unreadable essay will be notified and must reupload the assignment within 24 hours. Failure to do so will incur a late penalty on your submission when I do receive the correct, readable format. Students that neglect to upload the appropriate copy beyond 10 days after my notification will receive no potential credit on this essay and will have it marked down as a zero on their gradebook.

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