Rhetorical Bibliography Education

Rhetorical Bibliography

3-5 pages, typed and double-spaced

See pp. 268-269 in the MU Composition Handbook for the correct format for the entries in your Rhetorical Bibliography.

Major questions you’re trying to answer:

Rhetorical analysis: How does the source work? What’s its purpose? How is it put together? Is it effective in the purpose it seeks to achieve?
Analysis of context and usefulness: How does it fit with other sources on your topic? How does it contribute to the larger conversation about your topic? How might you use it in writing an essay on your topic?

Specific areas to consider

Remember that you won’t be able to cover all of these; you’ll have to choose which seem most important for each particular source. You will also need to decide how long each entry should be; for longer sources, you will probably need a longer entry, though some shorter sources might also require more explanation. The entire assignment should be 3-5 pages, so a fair estimate is 1/2-1 pages per source.

PURPOSE: What’s the thesis of the source? What is the author’s/organization’s goal? To persuade? Report? Raise awareness? Propose a solution to a problem? Question someone or something?
STRUCTURE: How is the text organized? What are the main ideas and how do they relate to the thesis and to each other? Do we start with a story? Or dive right into the facts? Move logically from one idea to the next? Or more personally/ emotionally? Move from most powerful to least powerful evidence or vice versa?
AUDIENCE: Who is the audience? Who will read this article? What makes you think that? General audience or more specific?
EVIDENCE: What types of evidence does the author use to support his/her thesis? Facts, statistics, anecdotal, description, etc. How good is this evidence? Is it observation, inference, or a combination of both? How does this impact the overall purpose of the source?
POINT OF VIEW: First person? Third person? Second? What difference does it make?
TONE: What is the author’s attitude toward the subject of the article? What’s his/her attitude toward the audience? How can you tell?
OTHER PERSPECTIVES: Does the author include other people’s opinions? Opposing views? Does he/she respond to them effectively? Give an example.
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AND UNFAIR ARGUMENTS: Does the author leave any questions unanswered? Can you think of anything he/she needs to address? Does the author use faulty reasoning or unfair arguments? Give examples.
STRATEGIES: What strategies does the author use to achieve the purpose? Logos? Pathos? Ethos? How does he/she try to persuade the audience that his/her argument is valid? See pp. 240-242 in the MU Composition Handbook for some good explanation of logos, ethos, and pathos.
LARGER CONVERSATION ON THE TOPIC: How does the source fit within the larger conversation on your topic? How does it fit with the other sources you found during the research project?
WHY YOU CHOSE THIS PARTICULAR SOURCE: Why did you choose this particular source? How does it contribute substantively to your knowledge of the topic? Or, if it is not substantive, does it contribute a particular angle or perspective you felt was important to include?
WHAT USES YOU SEE FOR THE SOURCE: How might people use the source? How might you use the source if you were going to write an essay on the topic?

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