Wes Moore: How to talk to veterans about war
Verna Myers: How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them
Research: No formal research is required for this assignment (i.e. you are not required to have sources or a Works Cited) although you are certainly allowed to use outside sources. If you use outside sources, you must cite them.
Format and Length:
All essays for this course should be in proper MLA format. A thoroughly analyzed essay will be around 3-4 pages.
How to write a rhetorical analysis
1. Consider the Rhetorical Situation: Read/view the speech several times over the course of different times/days, paying special attention to not only what the author is saying, but perhaps more importantly, how he/she presents his/her ideas. A good way to begin is to write out on a separate piece of paper what you think the text's purpose is, including: the thesis, the audience, the context in which the text was written, the tone, and the genre of the text. Think about the rhetorical situation (issues of purpose, audience, context, voice, strategies, genre, etc.) in terms of the author’s choices. [Hint: you will want to at least touch on all of the elements mentioned above (in the Rhetorical Situation and Rhetorical Appeals sections, respectively), as each of these elements (inter)act upon the others]. A word of caution; however, don't try to write in-depth about all of the elements of appeal and rhetorical situations, or your paper may quickly become unmanageable. Likewise, beware of not going into enough detail or not covering the relevant elements. There is a delicate balance you have to find between these two strategies – one for which there is, unfortunately, no hard fast set of rules for how to accomplish this. While you will need to address all elements, you may wish to focus on those elements most relevant to the text you choose (going into greater depth for those), and go into less depth for those which are not as relevant.
2. Consider the Rhetorical Appeals: You should address all three elements of rhetorical appeals (Ethos, Logos, and Pathos). How does (or does not) the author utilize one (or all) of these three approaches? Note: texts rarely utilize only one of the appeals, but rather typically utilize elements of all three.
3. Develop A Clear Thesis Statement: This is perhaps the most critical step in the writing process. You must ask yourself, “What is my purpose for writing this analysis?” Based upon your answer, you should be able to come up with a strong (unique) thesis statement. A thesis statement should reflect what you do in your analysis (i.e. a thesis statement is a roadmap for the rest of your analysis). Do not simply restate the author’s original thesis (remember the elements of the rhetorical situation -- your purpose is different than the original author’s). In addition to stating your stance, your thesis should provide the reader with a clear direction of where you’re heading (e.g. what’s your topic/issue? what are your units of analysis?, what conclusion do your come to?, and/or what is the significance of your work?).
4. Support Your Thesis Statement: The body of your analysis should be devoted to supporting evidence for your thesis statement (i.e. it should follow your roadmap). This will entail techniques of direct quotation, paraphrasing, and your own assessment. Do not simply summarize what the author has already stated (this is your analysis). There is an important, but subtle, shift in focus from your thesis to your supporting evidence your thesis states what you will do, but your supporting evidence reflects what (or why) the original author is doing (it)). This can be tricky and causes some students difficulty, but we will cover this in class. Additionally, your paragraphs should each, subsequently, address the various rhetorical elements and the aspects of the rhetorical situation of the original essay (hint: you should limit yourself to one particular element/aspect per paragraph). Be sure each paragraph directly addresses your thesis statement. Note: for several of the rhetorical elements, you may have to go outside of the original speech to find the appropriate information (e.g. you may need to do a little research to find the author’s birth date and/or professional experience, what was happening, in the world, at the time the essay was written, etc.), if these things are relevant. For each point you want to make in your analysis, you will want to give examples to support your claims. Using examples to support your claims will help your reader understand why you are making the claim you are making. For example, if you find a place in the text where the author is using pathos to appeal to the reader’s emotions, you should quote the place in the text where this appeal takes place. Likewise, if you are discussing how the author uses images to enhance a text, you should describe this image (or better yet, include a copy of the image within your analysis) to back up your claims.
5. State Your Conclusion: The purpose of your conclusion is to clearly, but briefly, reiterate what you were hoping to accomplish in your essay. In other words, it should reflect (mirror) your thesis. Note: It should not simply be a restatement of your thesis. It is designed to have the reader (re)contemplate the thesis, in light of the evidence you provided in the body of the text.
• Avoid lengthy, verbatim quotations and/or paraphrases of the original text. While sometimes helpful/necessary, you should limit your use (and/or the length) of these. The majority of your paper should consist of your own analysis.
• Avoid a chronological summary of the speech (where you move from paragraph to paragraph in the original essay), where you explain each of the author’s successive steps. Rather, organize your essay around the point mentioned in the "Process" section (ensuring that you address the relevant areas of the rhetorical situation and appeal. If an element in not applicable, you don’t necessarily have to address it in detail – use caution however that you don’t omit something important. Additionally, you may want to include something not mentioned by the author, if its omission is significant).
• Avoid attributing your own opinions/beliefs to those of the author. In other words, avoid putting words into the author’s mouth. If the author presents an opinion you agree/disagree with, clearly differentiate whose opinion you are addressing. A rhetorical analysis is much less about your emotional response to an issue addressed by the author, and more about your reaction to the process by which the author achieves (or not) his/her intention. This essay is not about whether or not you ultimately “like” or “dislike” what the author has stated. It is about whether the author was successful in persuading you to his/her own opinion (there is a subtle, but critical difference).