Rhetorical Analysis Assignment

Purpose: A rhetorical analysis examines and explains how an author (or artist) attempts to influence an audience. Rhetorical analyses use specific evidence from a text being analyzed to establish an argumentative thesis about the text's rhetoric—how effectively it persuades its audience. Importantly, this assignment emphasizes the need for analysis​in addition to description. You should be able to identify the persuasive elements of a text and analytically explain how these succeed (or fail) in the intended (or unintended) message and purpose. You will, therefore, want to investigate how the rhetoric you’ve chosen makes use of or interacts with the rhetorical concepts discussed in class (audience, message, purpose, context, rhetorical appeals, exigence, etc.) A good​rhetorical analysis clearly explains how the elements of rhetoric work together to accomplish a specific persuasive goal. A great​rhetorical analysis examines the text at a deeper level, identifying subtle logical or ethical problems, unintended implications, or underlying assumptions of the rhetoric, and develops a thesis that attempts to account for these. Directions​: Locate a written, oral, or visual argument that you find interesting and persuasive. Avoid choosing texts that are overly simplistic, as these will not give you enough material to write about. Also avoid choosing something obvious that doesn’t require analysis (e.g., we don’t need an analysis to tell us that Taco Bell caters to late night diners). Rather, choose something that is persuasive in a more subtle or complex way, and explain that complexity in your paper. The rhetoric you analyze should have enough sophistication and complexity to support an interesting and in­depth analysis.You should, at the very least, make use of the concepts of audience, message, purpose​, and at least two of the rhetorical appeals.​(Rhetoric that only uses one appeal isn’t very interesting or sophisticated). Also make use of things like context​and exigence​, where appropriate. A basic thesis​for this paper should make a claim about the rhetoric’s effectiveness, while a more insightful or bolder thesis​will extend the thesis from effectiveness to deeper meanings or implications (e.g., “The message of this piece gets lost in its misogynistic undertones”). Remember that identifying the rhetoric at work is only half the battle; you must also make an argument about how that rhetoric is functioning. This path of inquiry should lead you to more interesting and sophisticated claims. Structure of the Paper: Papers should move through three primary phases: Description,​Interpretation​, and Analysis.​ The introduction should provide an overview of all three components and how they are connected. Introduce the text, identify its basic claim/thesis, and present the findings of your analysis in the first paragraph. Arrange the body of your paper so that the readers move through it in an orderly way (e.g., by order of importance, chronological order, etc.). Each paragraph should begin with a claim­­think of this as a mini­claim that helps prove your thesis­­and provide specific examples​from your chosen text to support the claim. Paper will be graded on quality and depth of analysis, as well as on the standard principles of good writing. Length and Format: ● File Format: All papers will be submitted digitally as Microsoft Word documents​. MS Word is available free for PSU students through the campus bookstore. ● Titles: All papers should have an original, creative title​that indicates the argumentative or analytical stance you take in your paper. DO NOT ​title your paper “Rhetorical Analysis” or “Paper 1.” Titles should be centered below the heading and one space above the paper body. ● Length: 1000­1500 words​(three to four double­spaced pages) with 1” margins​. Please use twelve point Times New Roman​font. These are not the default settings of MS Word anymore, so please make sure to change them manually​. ○ Mac Users, please be aware that MS Word formats documents with 1.25” margins by default. Make sure to adjust this to the required 1” format. ● Heading: Please locate your heading in the header area of Word. You can do this by double­clicking near the top of the page. Before you begin typing the heading, make sure to check the box “Different first page” in the toolbar above. The heading should include your name, the course name, your instructor’s name, and the date. Headers should be single­spaced.​ ● Headers: Headers are not required, but if you decide to use a header, it should include only​your last name and the page number, and should appear on every page except the first page​. ● Pagination: Using the “insert page numbers” option in Word, add page numbers in the upper or lower right hand corner. ● Spacing: Final drafts should be double­spaced, with no additional space before or after paragraphs.​You may need to use the “Paragraph” menu in Word to adjust this, as Word adds space after paragraphs by default. ● Sources: If you use any sources beyond the text you analyze, make sure to cite them in proper MLA format.

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