A rhetorical analysis evaluates how a rhetor (whoever composes a text—e.g., an author, speaker, artist, etc.) attempts to persuade an audience. Locate a written/visual/oral text (an opinion piece, a speech, a printed advertisement, etc.) that you deem interesting and analyze it according to the way the text uses rhetorical appeals 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 the text; rather, your goal is to explain and measure the persuasive effect of the text.
To do this, first:
identify the rhetor, intended audience, 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 employs the available means of persuasion (the rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, pathos; rhetorical strategies; and visual and/or sound elements, if applicable) to persuade its audienceYou should go beyond description of the rhetorical elements of the text to look at how those elements work to achieve the text’s purpose. Your ideas should be developed through textual evidence and analysis of that evidence. In other words, 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. You’ll need to describe specific moments in the text in order to make your argument, but remember that your job is not to summarize the text for your readers.
Finally, evaluate the measure of persuasive effect—decide whether or not the text successfully persuades its intended audience.
Format: Your final draft should be 3-4 pages (double-spaced, TNR font, 1” margins). When citing your outside source(s), follow MLA format (see New Harbrace Guide Ch. 19 and/or the PSU Libraries’ Citation Research Guide: http://guides.libraries.psu.edu/mlacitation (Links to an external site.)).
Grading Criteria: Your essay should:
make a claim (a thesis) about an interesting, potentially persuasive text
identify the rhetor, intended audience, and intended purpose of the text
assess the text’s employment of rhetorical appeals and strategies (and visual/sound elements, if applicable)
use specific textual evidence for support
use proper MLA citation
be meticulously edited and proofread