Your first essay in this course will be a 3-4 page (formatted according to MLA protocol) original analysis (including a brief summary) of the rhetorical strategies of a particular argument. The object of this essay is toanalyze the author’s use of rhetorical strategies andillustrate how these choices contribute to the overall effectiveness of the argument.
Remember that this essay is your own—it has your own voice, your own organization and your own thesis statement. However, there is no place for your response to the topic in an essay of this sort. You are analyzing the rhetorical strategies of the author, not arguing for or against his/her point.
Essays you may choose from (all on Canvas under Files):
- Susan Brownmiller’s “Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet”
- Stuart D. Bykofsky’s “No Heart for the Homeless”
- Gerard Jones’s “Violent Media is Good for Kids”
- S. Taylor and A. Taylor’s “Is it Possible to be a Conscientious Meat Eater?”
- James Q. Wilson’s “Just Take Away Their Guns”
There are two parts to this essay:
Your essay should begin with a SHORT and completely objectivesummary of the author’s argument. This should be concise and direct and no longer than 150 words, and can be set off from the rest of the text or simply appear as the first paragraph. This summary shows the reader that you understand the argument and can explain it concisely.It should make clear the author’s thesis, but it should notinclude your thesis.
Examining the Author’s Strategies (80%)
Your thesis:This section might begin with your own thesis statement, which will possibly look something like this: “(The author),in (the title), uses (these tools) to successfully/unsuccessfully (the purpose) (the audience) that (his argument)” or “(The author) uses (these tools) to successfully/unsuccessfully (the purpose) (the audience) that (his argument), but his/her use of (these tools) keeps the argument from being successful/unsuccessful as a whole.” (Keep in mind that your thesis does not have to fit into this template, but it should reveal the strategies you intend to focus on, the audience the author is targeting, and the author’s purpose.)
Your analysis:You will then spend the majority of this essay critically analyzing the author’s rhetorical choices and illustrating how these choices contribute to the overall effectiveness of the argument with specific evidence from the text, keeping in mind the audience, purpose, and circumstances surrounding the text.
Strategies to consider (although you are not limited to these):
*Thesis(Does the author state the thesis explicitly or implicitly? Where is it placed in the text? What effect do these choices have on the overall argument?Does he/she consider all relevant factors? Does he/she omit any points you think should be discussed?)
*Persona/voice(What persona/voice does the author adopt? How effective is it in relation to the topic and the audience?)
*Tone(What tone has the author set and how did he/she establish that tone? Does this tone help or hinder the argument?)
*Methods of argument (Does the author use any methods such as analogy, cause-and-effect, description, narration, illustration, comparison and contrast, definition, etc., and how effective are they in getting the argument across?)
*Appeals[Does he/she appeal to reason, to emotion, or both? Does he/she use statistics and are they interpreted fairly? Does he/she quote authorities and are those chosen carefully? Has the author made his/her authority clear through demonstrating obvious good character/knowledge of the subject (ethos)]?
*Elements of style [Does the author use stylistic elements such asfallacies, figurative language (metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, irony, etc.), repetition, diction, rhetorical questions, etc., and what effect do they have on the argument?]
*Organization of the text (Does the organization of the piece have any effect on the argument? Does the form complement the content? What effect does it have, and does it aid or hinder the author’s intention?)
Tips for Success:
*Remember to examine how form and content work together, as well as how the author uses rhetorical tools to appeal to the audience and accomplish his/her purpose. In other words, examine the interactions and connections in the text, rather just listing the strategies used by the author.
*Make sure you understand the rhetorical situation and keep it in mind throughout your analysis. Ask yourself the following: What audience does your author seem to target? What is the author’s purpose in writing the piece? Is there more than one purpose? Does the purpose shift at all throughout the piece? What are the time, place, and environment surrounding this moment of communication?
*Donotrespond to the topic! Your job is to critically analyze one of the texts aboveand argue persuasively about how the author’s rhetorical choices contribute to the overall effectiveness of the argument, not to argue for or against his/her point.
*Do not limit yourself to a discussion of ethos, pathos, and logos. Your analysis should be of relevant strategies beyond just these rhetorical appeals.
*If you find it necessary to do research for purposes of understanding the circumstances surrounding the text, cite any sources both within the text and on a separate Works Cited page. However, do not use outside sources for the analysis itself – your analysis must be entirely your own.
Your Argument Analysis Should: