rhetorical analysis

Rationale:
This paper is a rhetorical analysis assignment which requires you to examine sources carefully, establish an author’s claim, and analyze rhetorical techniques used by an author and their effectiveness. These skills will be useful to you when using research sources in any class, as ability to evaluate and examine the way texts are written is essential to knowing which sources to use and how to integrate ideas into your own writing. The skills you learn in this assignment will also be helpful to you in other courses in which research, summary, and analysis skills are expected.

Assignment:
you will write an analysis (1000-1200 words) of one of the articles assigned in this class (The article is at this website- https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/column-how-an-epidemic-of-grade-inflation-made-as-average ). This assignment requires you to summarize an article’s main claim and supporting points, determine its audience (by looking at tone and publication venue), and break apart the article to figure out how effectively it reaches the intended audience. You will analyze the style of the author, the techniques used, and the effect and impact of these techniques in terms of the author reaching his or her audience and defending the claim. To simplify, you determine the author’s purpose and then evaluate how well the article succeeds at achieving that purpose. How is the argument made and in what ways is it effective and/or ineffective for the intended audience?

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Writing the Paper:
LSH Chapter W-8 (“Rhetorical Analyses”) will help you with information about how to piece together an analysis. Below are some techniques and style issues that you might choose to discuss. You do not have to cover them all; pick what is most relevant to the article you choose. Not every technique may be present in every article.

* Types of support or evidence used (the author’s own research or that of others, personal experience, data, common knowledge, logical assumptions, etc.)
* Types of examples used (comparisons, analogies, personal, historical, statistical, etc.)
* Types of appeals used – logic, emotion, credibility (logos, pathos, ethos)
* Organization (placement of main points and support, balance of points, placement of claim)
* Voice and tone (sophisticated, informal, personable, professional, sarcastic, etc.)
* Use of language and diction (vocabulary, repetition, level of formality, etc.)
* Logical fallacies (see the article in Online Readings for information)
* The writer’s awareness or acknowledgment of the opposing side if it’s an argument (Is the writer fair to the opposition? Does he/she seek common ground?)
* Use of literary elements (symbolism, metaphors, hyperbole, understatement, irony, satire, humor, etc.)
* Important Note: Do not evaluate the visuals or layout of the articles since those decisions are usually made by editors and web designers, not by the authors. The only time a visual could be considered part of an article is if it’s a graph or chart or if the author specifically references a particular photo or visual.

Tips for Analysis Writing:

1. Be sure that you’ve clearly identified the claim or main point of the article (stated clearly somewhere near the beginning of your paper). You can’t argue effectiveness or technique if you’re not clear on what the purpose of the article is. Remember the claim is the specific point of which the author is trying to persuade the audience (not the topic but the argument or point).

2. Be aware of the intended audience of the article so that you can successfully explain whether or not the author reaches the audience for whom the article is written. We’ll talk about how to identify the audience in class.

3. In analysis, do not express any personal opinions about the topic or the claim. The tone should be dispassionate and objective since whether or not you personally agree with the points is not the issue. This means there will generally be no use of “I” or “you” pronouns. You will speak about the reader or the audience.

4. Use plenty of examples from the text, including direct quotes when useful, but make sure that you do not end up with a bunch of quotations that are not discussed or explained—every direct quote should serve a purpose and have a direct connection back to your overall point. Explain how each example you choose connects to the claim and contributes to the communication of the author’s ideas. You can also summarize points or paraphrase to avoid excessive quoting (summaries and paraphrases must still be cited).

5. When you analyze the article, be careful that you do not get bogged down in summarizing the points instead of analyzing them. You do not have to spend a lot of time telling us what the article is about—instead tell us how it works.

6. Be sure your analysis explains specifically how the author’s techniques support his or her claim and that you do so in a way specific to that article. For example, saying an author uses a technique “to grab readers’ attention” is not analysis (that applies to every sentence of an article, presumably, so how does this author make it work?). Similarly, stating that an author “uses research to back up her point” is not analysis, since that’s the whole point of research in every article that has research. How does THIS author use THIS research to back up THIS claim?

7. The strongest analyses will move beyond surface characteristics to get at some of the more subtle and complex ideas of the article. Because you are focusing on just one article, you have space to dig deeply into the author’s writing and piece together how it works.

8. The essay must use in-text (parenthetical) MLA documentation to reference the argument in support of any evidence you provide from the text and must include a Works Cited page.

This paper should run approximately 1000-1200 words, not including the Works Cited page, so you will be expected to look beyond the surface characteristics to the less obvious techniques and points. You must include in-text citations and a Works Cited page with your two articles listed in proper MLA format. There is a 10-point penalty each for failure to use citations or not having a WC page.

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