Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical analysis (3 pages)

Students analyze a single public document from their class list (or a document approved by their instructor). The document may be primarily text though it may have a visual component. For many students, the document will be a brochure or a website produced by or about the site they visited for their observation essay. For others it will be an article on their class theme. This essay will analyze the rhetorical choices the author (or authoring agency) is making in the source, identifying author, audience, purpose, argument, and perspective. The student will ask why the author(s) chose the specific words and images in the source, why they chose its color scheme, why they chose a particular mode of distribution (pamphlet, website, promotional video, flyer etc.), what information they make, through arrangement, most visible in the text, what emotional appeals they make on their audience, etc. Students will support of a theme or thesis about the text’s choices with details from the text itself. As part of this assignment, students will complete an analysis chart that helps them identify and interpret authorship, audience, purpose, argument, and perspective.

Outcomes for EN 101 Rhetorical Analysis
• Identify how the purpose of text is achieved through the choices a writer makes
• Evaluate the degree to which the argumentative choices a writer makes are effective and ethical
• Determine the effects of point of view on an author’s interpretation/argument
• Organize prose giving priority to more important ideas
• Demonstrate effective logical reasoning in written prose
• Incorporate paraphrases and quotations smoothly and honestly into writing

Class may design the grading criteria. Here is the rhetorical analysis criteria designed by a Fall 2012 class:
rhetorical analysis grading criteria

Students will write an in-class reflection on their rhetorical analysis (part of their for participation grade). This reflection may ask about their process, the strengths and weaknesses of their essay, what they learned about writing and reading, what they hope to take form this assignment, etc.

I don't have permission to share these essays with students, but I thought they might be helpful for instructors who are new to rhetorical analysis assignments. Below are three student drafts with a link to my screen capture video revision comments and some sparse marginal comments.
Student draft 1
Student draft 2
Student draft 3

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