Rhetorical Analysis Guidelines
Length: 3 pages double-spaced
Proposal due: Sun. Sept. 20th
Rough Draft due:Tues.Sept. 29th
Final version due:Sun. Oct. 4th
WHAT IS A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS?
Every time you read an article, watch a music video, see an advertisement, or engage with any kind of text, you are responding (positively or negatively) to a constructed rhetoric. Writers and multimedia artists use rhetorical devices—emotional, logical, and ethical appeals, as well as word/image choice, style, and tone—to persuade you of their argument, whatever that argument may be. Rhetoric often seems invisible – you believe the writer, or accept the message, because it feels persuasive. Or, conversely, you change the channel or reject the article, because it feels dishonest, contains a glaring oversight, is overly manipulative, out of date, aimed at a different audience, or poorly reasoned. For this assignment, you will analyze a text from the list below to determine what rhetorical strategies the author is using, and whether these strategies are effective in persuading the audience.
A good rhetorical analysis weighs the various rhetorical strategies, the ones that work and the ones that don’t, and analyze their use and effectiveness in connection to context (what moment the article was written in), audience (primary, secondary, and incidental), and genre (the category and type of media), and ideally weave these items together into a complex argument concerning the text’s effectiveness. Your claims should be consistently backed up by carefully chosen quotes/descriptions, and integrated into your writing (no dropped quotes). You should use primarily third-person (with limited, strategically used first person) and a professional style of writing, while also establishing an engaging and distinct voice as a writer.
Before completing the rhetorical analysis, you will write a 1-2 paragraph summary of the text you are analyzing. A condensed version of this summary (usually the first paragraph where you summarize the argument in a nutshell) is used in the opening paragraph of your rhetorical analysis.
CHOOSING A TEXT
Leading up to the writing of the analysis paper, we workedas a class on Lorelei Lee’s 2017 essay, “Once You Have Made Pornography.” This collective work was meant to help you develop a complex understanding of rhetoric, how to analyze it, and how to articulate that analysis. When you start to write your own rhetorical analysis, you’ll do so on one of the articles listed below.
These articleshave been selected because they represent interesting and/or challenging rhetoric as well as sound argumentation (meaning that the argument is made in good faith and does not intentionally trick the reader). This does not mean there is nothing to critique, nor that the articles are without flaws. The articles are all quite recent (most from the last two years), butrepresent a diverse range of subject positions and political contexts, and cover a range of topics. Do a quick google search of each text to gain an understanding of the work, its author, and the topics addressed so as to better make a decision about what to work on.If you already have an idea of the topic you plan to pursue in subsequent assignments, you might choose a text that relates to this topic.
Remember, a rhetorical analysis does not argue with or against the subject matter; it analyzes the rhetoric of the argument. With this in mind, you should choose your text based on the interesting, innovative, or challenging nature of the rhetoric and the ways in which the author conveys their argument. I also suggest you choose something you enjoyed reading, as this makes the assignment more enjoyable to write and read. This approach is also arguably more productive to figure out how an author uses rhetoric to good effect than to trash an author’s alleged failures. You are very welcome to discuss your text choice with me prior to drafting the essay.
Texts to choose from:
“Cash/Consent” by Lorelei Lee.
“Black Lives Matter Isn’t Complete Without #SayHerName” by Karen Attiah.
“How the Karen Meme Benefits the Right” by Nina Burleigh.
“Karen is Being Used by White Women—Here’s Why They Need to Stop” by Malavika Kannan.
“Birding While Black” by J. Drew Lanham.
“Sex Work is Real Work and It’s Time to Treat it That Way” by LaLa B Holston-Zannell.
“The Coronavirus is a Disaster for Feminism” by Helen Lewis.
“More Women Like Me are Choosing to be Childfree. Is This the Age of Opting Out?” by RO Kwon.
“Why I Don’t Feel Safe Wearing a Mask” by Aaron Thomas.
FOR THIS ESSAY YOU SHOULD