Writing Question

Goal : In 900-1,100 wordswrite an essay that analyzes and interprets samples of good writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques.

When you write a rhetorical analysis, all you’re really doing is putting onto paper the strategies you discovered/ideas you came up with when reading the text critically. Below is a set of guidelines devised to help you organize the thoughts from your critical reading process.

Here is an example of a rhetorical analysis (Links to an external site.) for you to review .

The following guidelines detail the aspects of the text you might consider discussing, and they offer you some direction in terms of organizing your paper.

Remember that you do NOT have to cover all of these aspects when writing a
formal rhetorical analysis.

Your Title: The title of your essay is the first point of contact you have with your reader. What sort of title would describe your paper and distinguish it from other papers written on the same essay?

Example: The Rhetorical Fervor of President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address


1. How would you describe the rhetorical situation? What will you say about the speaker, the subject, the context, the audience, and the principle aim/purpose of the text? Are there any claims that are subordinate/secondary to the principal aim?

2. How would you summarize the essay in one or two sentences? (Try not to digress into a lengthy paraphrase of the piece.) What is the speaker’s thesis?

3. What features of substance and style will you focus on in the body of your essay, and do they make the author’s argument effective or not? (This is your thesis .)

Your Essay’s Body: DISCUSSING THE CONTENT OF THE TEXT (2-3 Paragraphs)

1. How has the speaker arranged the discourse, and why has he/she chosen these patterns or methods of (Links to an external site.)development (Links to an external site.)over others?

2. If the essay is persuasive, which of the Aristotelian appeals (logos, ethos, or pathos) predominates, and how do these appeals strengthen or weaken the argument?

3. Are there any fallacies or other weaknesses in the argument? How do they affect the reader’s response to the work? What kinds of assumptions are at work here? Are they fair assumptions?

4. What are the particular strengths of the argument? How does the writer establish common ground?

5. Does the writer make effective use of concessionrefutation, and/or counter-argument?

Your Essay’s Body: DISCUSSING THE STYLE OF THE TEXT (1-2 Paragraphs)

1. Which of the following features of style do you consider most important to the argument and why? (Click HERE for Additional Information)

o point of view (including stance)
o language (including level of diction and tone of voice)
o organization/pattern of development
o figurative language, symbolism, allusion (biblical, historical etc.), irony
o humor (but be careful; some people might not “get it”)
o number and length of paragraphs
o length and style of sentences
o rhythm and repetition

2. How do these particular features of style enable the writer to achieve her/his purpose?

Your Conclusion: TYING IT ALL TOGETHER (1 Paragraph)

1. Use your conclusion to comment on the effect and effectiveness of the essay as a whole. How well does the writer achieve the purpose, appeal to the audience, and demonstrate the effect of style on content?

Note the following conventions of analysis:

1. Analyze a text in the simple present tense.
2. Enclose essay titles inside quotation marks.
3. Refer to yourself as “the reader” or “the audience” (i.e. no first or second person).

4. Support your claims with textual evidence (mostly summary & paraphrase with some direct quotes).

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