WRTG 1100: Writing for University (AA1, AA2 & AA3) – Spring 2022
Complete Me! Rhetorical Analysis Essay Assignment
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: PURPOSE
The purpose of this assignment is two-fold: to demonstrate strong analytical skills in identifying the presence of rhetorical techniques and how they are employed to impact an audience and to produce a unified, well-developed, and coherent academic argument essay.
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: GOAL
The goal of this assignment is to write a unified, well-developed, and coherent rhetorical analysis essay of 600-800 words in response to ONE of the following source texts attached to this assignment as a .pdf file):
- Cayman Islands Department of Tourism advertisement
- Office of National Drug Control Policy advertisement [part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States]
- Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) advertisement
- Timex advertisement
- Miller Brewing Co. advertisement
- Volkswagen advertisement
- General Motors Corporation advertisement
- Bali advertisement
Note: In the above list, the advertisers’ names are bolded. Use these specific names when referring to the advertiser. Use the word “advertiser” when referring to the person or company that has produced the advertisement. Refer to the advertisement itself as “the advertisement” or “the ad” or “[name of advertiser]’s advertisement.” Refer to the customer viewing this advertisement as “the viewer” or “the audience.”
Note: You are NOT permitted to utilize any existing analyses of your chosen text. Know that your instructor has already read those analyses. Besides being intellectually dishonest and evidence of plagiarism, relying on others’ analyses will undercut the purpose of this assignment: providing your OWN analyses of a text’s strategic use of the rhetorical appeals to persuade its audience.
Plagiarized essays will receive a grade of zero and be reported to the Dean’s Office.
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: LEARNING OBJECTIVES
This assignment will enable you to demonstrate the following learning outcomes:
- Distinguish and utilize all stages of the prescribed writing process.
- Demonstrate awareness and respect of an academic audience.
- Construct an appropriate and complete thesis identifying your own main claim about the source text’s strategic use of logos, pathos, and ethos.
- Demonstrate understanding of proper essay and paragraph structure.
- Demonstrate strong analytical skills by identify how rhetorical techniques are used in the chosen source text to create effect.
- Demonstrate the ability to accurately present and format written work in MLA Style.
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: CRITERIA
A strong rhetorical analysis essay will contain the following:
1. An engaging and informative title: your own argument starts with your title–so use it!
2. A clear Introduction paragraph that includes direct reference to the source text’s title, its writer/speaker/creator, its topic, and its theme/purpose, and your own Thesis/Main Claim (MC) about the source text’s specific use of logos, pathos, and ethos AND what MESSAGE that use impresses UPON THE VIEWER about themselves.
3. Strong paragraphing: three body paragraphs/Major Supporting Points, one each for each argumentative appeal (logos, pathos, and ethos). This structure is not optional: you must address all three rhetorical appeals and how each impacts/persuades the audience.
1. Topic Sentences/Sub-Claims/Major Supporting Points (MPs) (that are directly relevant to the Thesis/Main Claim)
2. Adequate development: Each body paragraph should follow a careful pattern of development, including the following:
1. Points (Minor Supporting Points) (mps) that say WHY your Topic Sentence/Sub-Claim is valid.
2. Evidence: Elaboration/specific textual examples that show HOW and WHY your Point is valid. (Where necessary, use direct quotations from, and other references to, the source text as evidence/example.)
3. Explanation: Expansion on your evidence to explain HOW your elaboration/examples prove/validate your Points, i.e., ANALYSIS.
3. Purposeful and useful transitions that demonstrate connections, linkages, and relationships—between Major Points (T), Minor Points (t), etc. (as necessary).
4. A clear Conclusion paragraph that reiterates and amplifies your Thesis/Main Claim (answer the “So what?” / “Who Cares?” questions, and tell your reader WHY your perspectives on the source’s rhetorical strategies are important beyond the precise focus of this essay–why does your rhetorical analysis of this source text matter in the world beyond this essay). Consider the “Sample Rhetorical Analysis Essays” (uploaded in Moodle) as models of good rhetorical analysis essays, although note that these essays also have room for improvement.
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: INSTRUCTIONS/REQUIREMENTS
- Do not consult secondary sources regarding analysis of your chosen text. Use only the primary sources (the advertisements) and the “A Method for Conducting Rhetorical Analysis” handout/strategy questions as your guide. Your instructor is not interested in reading what others have to say. Remember that plagiarism is strictly forbidden and carries a series of serious consequences and penalties. Know that your instructor is very familiar with the existing body of analysis on these advertisements.
- It is permissible to consult a reference text to ascertain the general background on the advertiser, e.g., if you want to know more about Timex, as a company. If you do include words/ideas from any such secondary source, then you must provide any necessary in-essay citations and a complete citation on a separate Works Cited page at the end of your essay. Remember that wikis are not allowed as secondary sources in academic papers, e.g., Wikipedia, etc.
- Otherwise, you do not need to provide in-text citations or a Works Cited list if your only source text is the advertisement itself. When quoting from the advertisement, use exact language and use quotation marks so that it’s clear you are taking the words directly from the advertisement. When paraphrasing from the advertisement, use your sentencing to make it clear that you are using the words/idea of someone one else, for example, Beyoncé quotes some studies that say …
- Use the “A Method for Conducting Rhetorical Analysis” handout/strategy questions as your guide to conduct your analysis of your chosen source text.
- Ensure that your essay is between 600-800 words. This is not a recommendation. This is a mandatory requirement of the assignment. DO NOT be below 600 words (start counting from your essay’s own title), and as far as being over, do not be over by more than 10% of the top end of the range, i.e., 80 words, so a total of 880 words.
- Ensure that your final essay has a title, e.g., A Rhetorical Analysis of Timex’s Advertisement for the Ironman Triathlon Watch.
- Present and format your assignment in MLA Style. No other formats are acceptable, e.g., APA, Chicago Style, etc. Refer to the resources regarding MLA Style as posted in Moodle and in your Course Presentation.
- Use only MS-Word to prepare your essay, and ensure that your file is either a .doc or .docx file before submitting it. No other file formats are acceptable, e.g., .pdf, .dot, .rtf, etc.
- Make sure to follow the “Mandatory Assignment and Exam Formatting and Submission Policies” when naming/submitting your essay.
- Submit your essay by no later than 11:55pm PST, Sunday, February 20, 2022. Late assignments will not be accepted. (See also the Late Assignments policy in your course syllabus.)
- The Rhetorical Analysis Essay is worth 20% of your total course grade.
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: EVALUATION
All assignments in WRTG 1100 are graded according to the “Grading Guidelines for WRTG 1100,” as posted in Moodle and in your Course Presentation. In particular, your Rhetorical Analysis Essay will be assessed based on the depth and breadth of your analysis–your ability to make observations and interpretations, to be specific about (1) what’s in the advertisement (what is says, does, means) and then (2) the rhetorical impact on the audience of what’s in the advertisement (i.e., on the audience’s logic, emotions, perceived credibility of the presenter/speaker) and the resulting impression this leaves on the audience about the themselves. Remember: “rhetoric” means “the art of persuasion,” so your task as an analyst of rhetoric is to explain to your reader of your essay HOW the rhetorical appeals of logos/pathos/ethos ARE effective (or not). In other words, what is the IMPACT on the audience of the source text’s rhetorical choices (re logos, pathos, and/or ethos)?
RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY: TIPS
1. Use the “A Method for Conducting Rhetorical Analysis” handout/strategy questions as your guide to perform your analysis of your chosen text.
2. Consider all of the advertisements first.
3. Then choose one advertisement to analyze.
4. Review your chosen advertisement very closely with the guiding “A Method for Conducting Rhetorical Analysis” questions in mind, and annotate.
5. Identify the major theme/purpose/intent of the source text. What is ITS thesis? What is ITS Main Claim? Write this down in your own words (remember your paraphrasing/summary skills!). Remember that the advertisement’s own thesis is much more than, for example, “Buy this Ironman Triathlon watch.” The advertisement’s thesis starts with that, yes, but is expanded by the words “because it …”. For example, the thesis of the Timex advertisement might be something like this: “Buying the Timex Ironman Triathlon watch not only provides the customer with an outstanding watch but also allows the customer to feel included in the world of high-performance, elite individuals.”
6. Then craft your OWN Thesis of your Rhetorical Analysis Essay to claim how the source text’s use of rhetorical appeals (logos, pathos, ethos) achieves the source text’s purpose, its thesis, its main claim. (Consult the sample essay uploaded in Moodle for an example.) For example, your thesis might be something like this: “Timex’s effective use of the rhetorical appeals of logos, pathos, and ethos successfully encourages the viewer/audience to buy its Ironman Triathlon watch by conveying a message of elite, high performance, possible not only in sports but also life.”
7. Remember that, with this thesis, the writer is now obligated to prove/validate it–that is, the body paragraphs must now SHOW the reader HOW the advertisement actually DOES THIS, referring to and then analyzing the SPECIFIC EVIDENCE in the advertisement.
8. Then organize your thoughts and ideas into a full essay outline (see the template uploaded in Moodle). The more fulsome you can be with your outline, the easier it will be to complete your first draft. The key to good writing is not the “spark” of “inspiration.” It is sound planning.
9. Write the first draft of your Rhetorical Analysis Essay.
10. When you refer to anyone by name in your essay, the first time you mention them, use their full name, e.g., Janice Morris. Thereafter, if their name comes up again, just refer to them by last name only, e.g., Morris. DO NOT EVER refer to someone you cite by first name only–you are not friends, and this is an academic paper, i.e., formal and objective.
11. Also, be clear when attributing words/ideas to others: When citing a speaker/writer/creator in your essay, always be clear who is speaking/writing/creating/presenting. (See #3 under Instructions/Requirements above.)
12. After you have completed the first draft of your Rhetorical Analysis Essay, take a break.
13. Then return to your own essay and analyze your writing for opportunities where you can expand, deepen, or clarify your analysis. REMEMBER: your task is to ANALYZE the advertisement’s rhetoric–not to critique the advertisement, not to respond to the advertisement, and not to tell your reader what you personally think about the advertisement’s message. Your task is to be an objective outsider and analyze HOW logos/pathos/ethos work in the advertisement to achieve the desired impact/purpose, or not (which is why you need to do step 6 above first).
14. Be sure to carefully revise, edit, and proofread your writing so that it meets all the assignment criteria and is free of grammatical errors. Remember, even a focused, well developed, well organized essay cannot achieve a grade above 59% if it contains significant errors.
1. Revise: Make sure that all the major requirements have been met.
- Have you analyzed all three rhetorical appeals?
- Have you organized your essay according to the rhetorical appeals, with one body paragraph per appeal?
- Does your essay have its own Thesis?
- Do your body paragraphs’ Topic Sentences derive from that Thesis?
- Do you provide direct textual evidence from the source text to support your Topic Sentences and, thus, your Thesis?
- Do you then analyze that evidence AS evidence of whatever appeal you say it exemplifies? In other words, do you explain to your reader HOW the evidence you cite is actually working to impact its audience?
- Do you “connect the dots” for the reader of YOUR essay? Remember, no evidence is self-evident. You must explain to your reader how the source text’s rhetorical techniques/choices are actually working on their listeners.
2. Edit: Make sure that your sentencing, syntax, diction, and coherence/transitions are all sound.
One good way to check your sentencing is to read your essay, sentence by sentence, but starting from the end of your essay, i.e., read the last sentence of your essay out loud, in whole. Then move to the second-to-last sentence and do the same. Then the third-to-last sentence, etc. This method will help you get away from the forward momentum of your draft essay, which often keeps you from hearing the quality of our sentences and word choice.
3. Proofread: Proofreading is all about polish.
Ensure that your grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, quotation marks, etc. are all correct.
Also, ensure that you have formatted your paper according to MLA Style (font, margins, line spacing, indentation, page numbering, etc.).
Furthermore, ensure that your essay has an engaging and informative title, i.e., not just “Rhetorical Analysis Essay.” Your own argument begins with your title.
Your title is part of your essay/argument, so use it to its full effect.
15. Use the grading rubric (at the end of the “A Method for Conducting Rhetorical Analysis” handout) to help with your writing and as a guide for completion before submitting your final essay.
ONE LAST THING
The three rhetorical appeals (or argumentative appeals, as they are also known)–logos, pathos, ethos–are about APPEALING (meaning: trying to reach out to and persuade) to the VIEWER of the advertisement, not only the presence of logic in the advertisement itself. So, for example, the definition of logos is not just “all the instances where the advertisement is itself demonstrating logic.” No. That is not the definition of logos precisely.
Logos means HOW the ad APPEALS TO THE VIEWER’S SENSE OF LOGIC, REASONING, RATIONALITY, etc. Yes, the creators of the ad make this appeal by including things in the ad that are themselves logical, reasoned, rational, etc. in the hopes of reaching the viewer’s brain, but if your body paragraph on logos only points out where in the ad there are examples of things that are facts, figures, information, data, reasoning, etc., then you are missing the point of an analysis essay and have only gone half way (you have made the observations, but not the interpretations).
Rhetorical analysis means explaining to your reader HOW the VIEWER’S own sense of logic, reason, rationality ARE ENGAGED AND PROVOKED by the ad, such that they find the ad persuasive, and further, WHY it’s persuasive, e.g., because it connects to their sense of _____ about _____ or need for ______. In other words, don’t stop half-way in your analysis by only pointing out the evidence of things in the ad. Explain HOW those things then appeal to the viewer (their brain, their heart, their perception of credibility in the ad’s creator).