Project 2: Rhetorical Analysis

Introduction/Rationale

As we already know from Project 1, the analysis essay is a common college assignment across many different majors and includes the basic elements of CLAIM + EVIDENCE. Since we know that analysis focuses on describing how something works by breaking it down and examining its various components, we are going to add a layer to this second analysis project, while also shifting our focus from a discourse community that we are very familiar with, to one many of us have just recently become a part of: Wayne State University. In this version of the analysis essay, the something you’ll study are examples of writing that function within a very specific discourse community, that of Wayne State. To do your analysis, you will use rhetorical analysis, which is an advanced reading strategy used to explore how rhetorical messages work in specific situations.

This assignment, which involves both individual and group work, has three main goals:

  1. to develop your understanding of key rhetorical concepts (rhetorical situation, types of arguments, and persuasive appeals),
  2. to provide you with practice using rhetorical concepts as a reading strategy to read and analyze types of writing,
  3. to give you practice writing in the genre of the academic essay.

As your instructor, I will use this assignment to assess your achievement across all three of these goals.

I will place you in a group of three to four other students and ask you and your group to study a collection of texts, called a corpus, from one of the categories listed below. You and your group will then use rhetorical concepts that we’ll work with in class to study how the corpus you’re studying is designed to accomplish the University’s goals. Your group will collaborate on an essay that presents the results of your work.

The texts you will read and analyze for this project come from Wayne State University, and are genres you interact with in this discourse community on a daily basis. Since you will be working on this project in groups, each group will be responsible for choosing a genre to focus on and proposing it to me. Once I approve your group’s choice, you can then select your sample texts to analyze. Genre choices could include:

  • The WSU website pages
  • WSU Annual Report
  • WSU Retention Report
  • Departmental newsletters
  • WSU College newsletters
  • WSU Vet Center brochures
  • WSU Athletic Department press releases
  • DMC press releases
  • The WSU Facebook page (or department pages)
  • The WSU Twitter feed (or department Twitter feeds)
  • Today @ Wayne emails
  • The WSU Library website
  • Crime Brief emails from the WSU Department of Public Safety
  • Job postings for student assistants from the WSU Placement Office
  • Student organization websites, social media pages, flyers (Black Student Union, GLBT Student Organization, Amnesty International, etc.)

Your group needs to assemble a corpus of 3-6 example or sample texts to look at in detail from your chosen genre.

Assignment Prompt
Write a 2500-3000–word paper that identifies, describes, and analyzes the argumentative and rhetorical strategies used in the genre your group has chosen to study. You will need to identify the strategies, describe their function within the discourse community, and create an evaluative claim based on your analysis. Here’s the basic outline of the essay:

  1. Introduction
  2. Description of corpus
  3. Analysis of corpus
  4. Claim
  5. Conclusion

Each person in your group will be responsible for analyzing a different strategy used in the corpus. Divide up the work amongst the group members as follows:

  • Type of argument-One person in each group will be responsible for studying and writing about the different types of arguments used in the texts being studied (i.e., definition, evaluation, causation, proposal, rebuttal). This person will use chapter 6 of The Wayne Writer to guide their work.
  • Ethos-One person in each group will be responsible for studying and writing about how authors make themselves appear credible and trustworthy to the corpus’ target audience. This person will use Lauren Carroll’s essay “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”  and the mini-lesson “Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals” to guide their work.
  • Pathos-One person in each group will be responsible for studying and writing about how authors appeal to the emotions and beliefs of the corpus’ target audience. This person will use Lauren Carroll’s essay “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”  and the mini-lesson “Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals” to guide their work.
  • Logos-One person in each group will be responsible for studying and writing about how authors appeal to logic and the target audience’s expectations for appropriate supporting evidence. This person will also identify and describe at least one enthymeme used in the corpus. This person will use Lauren Carroll’s essay “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”  and the mini-lesson “Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals” to guide their work.

In addition, each group will also collaborate on three sections of the essay:

  1. The Introduction, in which the group will introduce the topic and purpose of their paper (e.g., the ways the University attempts to communicate with students about crime on campus) and foreshadow/state an evaluative claim about the corpus (see conclusion).
  2. A description of the corpus and its rhetorical situation, in which the group will describe the texts being studied and the rhetorical situation of the corpus using the definition of rhetorical situation detailed in chapter one of The Wayne Writer (pages 12-14), as well as in the mini-lessons we’ll cover in this project.
  3. The Conclusion, in which the group will develop an evaluative claim about the collection of texts being studied. Strong essays will develop the group’s evaluative claim in terms of particular elements of the corpus’ rhetorical situation (e.g., audience, purpose, etc.). As an example, your group might determine that the corpus is generally ineffective because it fails to adequately anticipate the needs and expectations of its target audience (see the Wayne Writer 166-170).

Essay Organization

The analysis essay genre is described on pages 166-172 of The Wayne Writer. Included below is a detailed outline for the essay which includes all of the different sections described above. Supporting materials for each section are included in parentheses.

  • Introduction (TWW, 239-241)
    1. introduce topic (e.g., how universities market themselves to students, how universities communicate with students about campus crime, etc.)
    2. state purpose of your essay (“In this essay, we will explore…”)
    3. introduce or foreshadow your main claim (“We argue that…”)
  • Corpus/Rhetorical Situation Description: describe the corpus and its rhetorical situation (TWW, chapter 1)
  • Analysis (TWW, 241-244)
    1. identify and describe the main kinds of arguments used in the corpus (TWW, chapter 6)
    2. identify and describe the corpus’ use of ethos (“Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”  and the mini-lesson “Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals”)
    3. identify and describe the corpus’ use of pathos (“Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”  and the mini-lesson “Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals”)
    4. identify and describe the use of logos and one enthymeme used in the corpus (“Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”  and the mini-lesson “Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals”)
  • Claim
    1. develop an evaluative claim about the corpus (TWW, chapter 6; “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”)
  • Conclusion (TWW, 244): discuss the significance and implications of your group’s analysis and evaluative claim

Essay Minimum Requirements

  • 2500-3000 words
  • typed; double-spaced
  • formatted for MLA style
  • written in formal, edited English
  • essay must identify and describe the main type of argument used in the corpus
  • essay must describe the use of ethos, pathos, and logos used in the corpus
  • essay must develop an evaluative claim about the corpus

Due Date

Groups will use OneDrive to collaborate on and present their essay for feedback. Final drafts should be uploaded to One Drive by the start of class on 2/22/2017.

Grading

The rhetorical analysis essay is worth 100 points. A grading rubric for the assignment is listed below.

 

Group Features Excellent Acceptable Needs Revision Missing
Introduction
Does the beginning of the essay introduce the topic? (e.g., how universities communicate with students about campus crime)
Does the introduction state the purpose of the essay? (“In this essay, we will…”)
Does the beginning of the essay introduce or foreshadow the paper’s evaluative claim? (“We argue that…”)
Corpus Description
Do the writers describe the corpus being studied? (i.e., the collection of texts)
Do the writers accurately describe the rhetorical situation of the corpus?
Claim
Do the writers develop an evaluative claim about the corpus with examples from the texts being studied?
Conclusion
Do the writers discuss the significance and implications of the group’s analysis and evaluative claim?
Formatting (title, margins, spacing, font, page numbers, indentation)
Have the writers formatted their essay using MLA style?
Editing
Has the essay been edited and polished for presentation?
Individual Features Excellent Acceptable Needs Revision Missing
Content
Does the writer responsible for identifying the corpus’ main types of arguments provide a reasonable identification and detailed description using specific examples from the texts being studied?
Does the writer responsible for ethos provide a detailed description of how the corpus attempts to create a sense of credibility and trustworthiness with specific examples from the corpus?
Does the writer responsible for pathos provide a detailed description of how the corpus attempts to appeal to the emotions and beliefs of the target audience?
Does the writer responsible for logos provide a detailed description of how the corpus writers attempt to appeal to logic and the target audience’s expectations for appropriate supporting evidence? Has the writer identified and described at least one enthymeme used in the corpus?
Organization
Does the writer present their ideas using a general to particular pattern that flows logically from one point to the next?
Editing and Proofreading
Has the writer taken care to edit and proofread their section for presentation?

Learning Outcomes

Writing

  • Compose persuasive academic genres, including argument and analysis, using rhetorical and genre awareness.
    • You’ll practice demonstrating understanding of rhetorical concepts: scene, genre, rhetorical situation, argument, and persuasive appeals.
  • Use a flexible writing process that includes brainstorming/inventing ideas, planning, drafting, giving and receiving feedback, revising, editing, and publishing.
    • You’ll practice the MLA-style analysis essay genre.

Reading

  • Use reading strategies in order to identify, analyze, evaluate, and respond to arguments, rhetorical elements, and genre conventions in college-level texts and other media.
    • You’ll use the concepts of scene, genre, rhetorical situation, argument, and persuasive appeals as a reading strategy.

Researching

  • Use a flexible research process to find, evaluate, and use information from secondary sources to support and formulate new ideas and arguments.
    • You’ll use the concepts in The Wayne Writer and Carroll’s “Backpacks vs. Briefcases” to formulate new ideas and arguments to analyze other texts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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