Education (Eric)

Rhetorical Analysis

Document for Analysis Due Thursday, Oct. 10
Draft Due Thursday, Oct. 17 (Three hard copies brought with you to class)
Revised Draft Due Monday, Oct. 28 (On Turn-it-in.com)
10% of final semester grade
900 words

Key mechanical concerns: Concision and Diction

In your second major assignment for the semester, you will analyze a public document (text and image(s)) related to the educational institution you visited for your observation: a brochure, website, or other document by or about your university or college. The document should have at least 500 words of text (3-4 good paragraphs) for you to examine. This combination of text and image will be the message you analyze. You will identify the specific exigence the message is designed to address, and you will analyze how the speaker(s) designs that message in order to influence a specific audience. You should explore why the speaker(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, flyer etc.), what information they make most visible in the text, what rhetorical appeals they make to their audience, etc. You will need to address any complexity that is present in the speaker and audience; as in our class discussion, there may be many different speakers involved in designing the message and there may be many different audiences they try to influence with that message. We will discuss at a later time exactly what your thesis and introduction should contain.

Some points and questions to keep in mind:
• Read and annotate any written text in the document.
• Closely examine visual elements (images, colors, layout, fonts, etc.). Use the handout on analyzing visual texts for help.
• Determine the document’s purpose (implicit or explicit). Is it making an argument? Trying to persuade someone of something? Trying to sell something? Simply informing its audience on a topic?
• Determine the audience. Who does the document target? How can you tell?
• How current is the document and its information? When was it published (or last updated/ revised)?
• How complete and accurate is the information? Is anything missing?
• Examine the tone, purpose, organization/structure, point of view, and context of the document’s text. What do these choices add?
• How do the speakers’ rhetorical appeals (logos, ethos, pathos, kairos) help them achieve their goals?
• Evaluate any claims made in the document. Are they fair? Is there any faulty reasoning in these claims?
• How does the image(s), design of the page or text, and any other media incorporated? Are they appropriate? Do they match what the text communicates, or do they contradict it?
• What features of design (color scheme, variations of font style and size, placement on the page, formal or playful lettering) seem to stand out? Do the design elements add to the function/ purpose of the document, or are they merely decorative?
• What is the overall message of the document? What does it attempt to do? Is it successful?

More thoughts about specific elements

1. The words
HINT: The written text will be the most important part of the document to analyze
• How much written text is present? To what effect?
• What do the words say? Do they agree with the image or contradict it in some way?
• What kind of diction, tone, language is present in the written text?
• What do the words imply? What do they add to the message of the document?

2. Images
• What kind of images have you chosen to analyze? Photographs? Cartoons/ drawings? Some combination? What is their relation to the text?
• What’s the image of? Is there a story being told? What and why?
• If people are present, how large is/are the body/ies? What part of the body is dominant in the picture? Is the figure shown interacting with others, or alone? What kind facial expression is present? What emotion does the facial expression suggest? What is the subject wearing? What does the subject’s clothing imply about him/her?
Rhetorical Analysis Grading Criteria

Content: A passing essay must:
• Have a focused, controlling thesis that involves complex rather than superficial analysis
• Thoroughly examine the speaker’s rhetorical strategies
• Focus most of the essay on the document’s text
• Present credible, relevant, and fully explained evidence from the document in support of this thesis
• Avoid unnecessary information and details
• Contain adequate paraphrases of the document (in your own words)
• Quote accurately from the document (word for word)
• Effectively describe and analyze images in the document
• Show substantial differences between the initial and revised drafts

Organization: A passing essay must:
• Have an introduction that adequately introduces the document and gives an overview of its context (who the speaker or speakers are, who makes up the audience, and what exigence the speaker seems to be responding to)
• Have an interesting ending that brings the essay together or opens into new possibilities
• Make its structure clear to the reader through transitions, both at the paragraph and the sentence level
• Contain paragraphs that are logically organized internally (focused on a specific piece of your analysis)
• Avoid repeating ideas

Style: A passing essay must:
• Contain writing that is concise and clear and employ a tone and diction appropriate to an academic context
• Contain a variety of sentences patterns
• Contain few if any grammatical errors or typos
• Be typed in a standard 12 inch font, double-spaced, and at least 900 words long
• Utilize a voice and tone appropriate for an academic audience

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