Rhetorical Essay

Assignment Description 

Write an 800-1000 word analytical essay over the author’s rhetorical strategy in a text of your choice.  Use MLA format and write with voice, but correctly.

Topic Selection

You may choose a text with both words and visuals.  You may instead choose a text that is only words.  You may not choose a text that is visuals without words, such as a photograph.  The following list covers most of the choices for this assignment:

  • An essay, article, speech, or other persuasive text
  • A graphic novel or comic book
  • A short film, documentary, or scene in a longer film
  • A print ad or public service announcement or television commercial
  • An episode of a television show

There are other possible choices for this assignment, but if you move away from this list, get approval for your choice.  I want to steer you toward the types of texts that provide the best opportunity for rhetorical analysis.  For instance, some songs might be good choices, but most wouldn’t have sufficiently complex lyrics that you could analyze thoroughly in a paper of this length.

I also suggest avoiding ads that are frequently analyzed online.  These include Budweiser, Nike, Apple and other popular products.  Look for something that’s not analyzed to death online so you have an opportunity for your own ideas.  In this assignment, topic selection is very important.  Be clever and original in your choice.

Your Purpose, the Author’s Purpose, and What You’re Analyzing

Your purpose in this assignment is to demonstrate your skill in rhetorical analysis. You want to demonstrate not only that you understand the text you choose, but that you can make perceptive inferences about the author’s rhetorical choices in creating the text.  You do this by identifying these choices and showing how they work—and work together—in the text.  This is analysis.

Key Idea to Help You Succeed

An author creates a text for a purpose.  He or she has something to say to an audience.  This message is delivered through rhetoric.  Everything from the choice of a title to the physical characteristics of the way the image looks on the page, to the casting choices of a commercial is a rhetorical choice the author makes.  As a reader, you can look closely at the elements of the text and make good inferences about both why and how the text was produced.  (See “The Tools of Rhetorical Analysis, Lesson 3.3”)

Grading Rubric

A rubric will be provided separately from this assignment. We’ll discuss this after you finish DB 3.1.