Write a rhetorical analysis article (800-1000 words) focusing on a current controversy. Your task (as specified on page 190 of How Writing Works) “is to compose an analysis of one or more key texts involved in that controversy.” Your analysis should focus on the rhetoric used in your texts, rather than on the content or topic of your texts—in other words, you are analyzing the choices made in the writing itself rather than picking a side in the controversy or saying what you believe about the topic.
First, identify a topic—a current controversy
Next, compile a list of sources that relate to your topic. You might start with course texts, or you might just start with the newspaper or online sources.
Then, read your sources carefully, and identify common rhetorical strategies that appear (in different ways) in your chosen texts. Some potential rhetorical strategies and tools that you might keep an eye out for in your texts:
Ethos (credibility) (Chapter 18)
Pathos (emotions and values) (Chapter 18)
Logos (reason and logic) (Chapter 18)
Style (Chapter 21)
Arrangement (organization) (Chapter 20)
Delivery (presentation) (Chapter 29)
Rhetorical figures (metaphor, simile, antithesis, etc.) (Chapter 21)
Audience (Chapter 1)
Timing (Chapter 2)
Purpose (Chapter 1)
Genre (Chapter 1)
Argument or claim (Chapter 18)
Evidence (Chapter 18)
Rhetorical situation (Chapter 2)
Next, work to develop a key claim or thesis, focusing on explaining why the rhetorical strategies and tools you have chosen to analyze make the texts effective or ineffective.
Finally, draft, revise, and edit your project!
Genre Toolkit for this Project
What’s It For? (Purpose):
The purpose of a rhetorical analysis is to identify key rhetorical features (aspects) of its chosen text(s) in order to make a claim about each text’s effectiveness on its audience. In other words, the goal of a rhetorical analysis is to analyze how a text impacts the audience.
Who Reads It? (Audience):
You should imagine your audience as the community of UC Santa Cruz—imagine that your rhetorical analysis is printed online in City on a Hill Press, our student newspaper.
What is it? (Genre Conventions):
See also Chapter 8 in How Writing Works. We will also discuss conventions in class.
Requirements for class:
800-1000 words, typed and double-spaced, and printed in an 11- or 12-point font with 1” margins and formatted according to MLA or APA guidelines. (See HWW for specifics.)
Introduction that identifies your controversy and introduces some central rhetorical concepts in a thesis statement that briefly states your argument about why certain features make the texts effective/ineffective
Body paragraphs that use specific examples as evidence
Signal phrases and citations with every quote – you may use MLA or APA format (we have gone over this in class; you can also consult How Writing Works and/or Purdue OWL for details)
Analysis of every example that makes connections between the example and your main point
A note on editing/design (see page 189 of How Writing Works): Because City on a Hill Press, your target publication, is both printed in black-and-white AND published online, you may choose whether to keep your article plain black-and-white text or add color features.
Controversies that you might consider:
You may choose to start from a course text, for example:
Some of the “This I Believe” essays offer competing ways to see a topic, concept, or way of living. You might choose a selection of This I Believes that offer different viewpoints on a shared topic, and analyze their points of view and each essay’s effectiveness, rhetorically, when measured against other essays on a similar topic.
You might choose to begin with another reading from class, such as Educated, “What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means,” etc.—you might pick up on a concept from one of those texts and add in other texts/viewpoints as applicable.
You may have found a set of resources while researching your topic for Project #2 that you can now write about again, this time focusing on their rhetoric rather than their content/topics.
You may, instead, turn to any other (English-language) texts focusing on any other controversy or issue of your choosing.
You might look for articles from a newspaper or magazine, advertisement(s), speech(es), film, etc.
How Writing Works suggests that you might choose something from current events, either on campus or in the local/national news.