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Essay #2: Rhetorical Analysis

Our work in Unit One was focused on content, comprehension, and application, linking concepts found throughout your readings on the Myth of Educational Opportunity, and inviting you to craft your own criteria for effective education. In Unit Two, we’re taking a step beyond WHAT the texts argue, focusing instead on HOW they get their point across. How does the author help the readers understand the content? How do they ensure readers trust their authority? How make the readers care about the topic? What makes their arguments persuasive?

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This 4-6 pg. paper asks you to rhetorically analyze one of the articles below (all available in your RA reader) to understand how the authors attempt to persuade their audience through appeals, framing techniques, and rhetorical devices. This paper is not a summary—while you may want to briefly review the main arguments, your paper should focus on the stuff “under the hood” instead of just overall comprehension and meaning. Your goal is to pick this rhetorical artifact apart and explain how it works, using the new toolbox of rhetorical terms learned over the unit.

Here’s what your paper should contain:

Introduction (1 paragraph) – Employs a relevant hook – Introduces full author and article name – Includes a 1-2 sentence summary of the author’s main purpose – Finishes with an argumentative thesis, answering the research question: What does this author attempt to

persuade their audience, and most importantly, how?

Context Paragraph (1 paragraph) – Explains, in more detail, the author’s main arguments and suggested goal (what do they want their

readers to do/think after reading? – Discusses author’s positionality/subjectivity—how are they connected with their argument? How might

this influence their perspective?

Argumentative/Analytical Paragraphs (5-8 paragraphs) Each paragraph contains a complete, mini-argument, providing a “reason” to support the thesis. These should cover some of the rhetorical terminology discussed in class, such as use of logos, pathos, and ethos (Note: DO NOT mention these appeals by name! How is this appealing to pathos? What emotion? What common human experience?), connotation/juxtaposition of language, and/or rhetorical strategies. Each paragraph needs: – Claim: A summarizing topic sentence, stating a specific claim (this should “answer” the research question

above) – Evidence: At least one (preferably more) pieces of quoted, cited evidence – Contextual understanding of the quote (so we know what happened surrounding this quote) – Reasoning: Explanation of how the quote(s) help prove your claim

Conclusion (1 paragraph)

Sample Paragraph Template I h i g h l y r e c o m m e n d s e l e c t i n g m o r e t h a n o n e q u o t e p e r p a r a g r a p h ; t h e m o r e e v i d e n c e y o u p r o v i d e , t h e m o r e p e r s u a s i ve y o u r a r g u m e n t i s. I f y o u h a ve a l o n g q u o t e , c o n s i d e r s p l i t t i n g i t i n h a l f : a n a l y z e t h e f i r s t p a r t , t h e n t h e s e c o n d a f t e r y o u c o m p l e t e t h e f i r s t O R E O.

Final Draft Due End of Week 11: ( N o r o u g h d r a f t d u e , b u t y o u c a n s c h e d u l e m e e t i n g s a n y t i m e t o l o o k o ve r w h a t y o u ’ ve g o t s o f a r )

Many of these articles were written years ago, but unfortunately, the reality of class division and poverty is all too current. Instead of restating your thesis, connect the overall message of the piece to a current, relevant issue. For example, if your chosen text discussed unequal access to health services, perhaps you can discuss the barriers lower-income workers are currently having accessing the Covid vaccine, while many affluent people find ways to “jump the line.” You may want to find an article on a news site to expand your understanding, but additional research is not required.

Topic Sentence Quote #1 Introduction (Author/speaker), Context (if necessary)

Quote, Citation

Interpretation/Summary (if unclear)

Analysis—why did you choose this quote? How does this help your claim?

Quote #2 Context (if necessary); should connect with Analysis of Quote #1

Quote, Citation

Interpretation/Summary (if unclear)

Analysis—why did you choose this quote? How does this help your claim?

How Do I Start?

STEP 1 Reread the essay you choose closely. Find the main arguments, and take notes.

STEP 2 Skim through the essay again, looking for areas… – you find to be effective or ineffective – you find to be particularly strong/particularly weak – you agree with, or disagree with – areas that correlate with your notes on rhetorical strategies/appeals

You don’t have to look for all of these! See what jumps out at you.

STEP 3 Look at your findings. Assess what you have—are there any similar arguments? Patterns or trends? Do your comments seem to take a stance on this article, or not? Edit your list, grouping ideas together based on chronology, topic, critique, or strength.

STEP 4 After arranging, start to respond to your findings. Consider answering layers 1 + 3 of the analysis layers: 1. What does this section/quote mean? What is it’s significance? 2. What do I think about it? Why did I pull this out? Why do I think its ineffective/effective/strong/weak/


STEP 5 Edit your thoughts to turn this into third person, academic language: • Remove I, me, we, us, you • Remove internal voice, like feel, believe, think, know • Replace the above words with some visual—how can you tell what someone is feeling? What are the actions

stemming from belief/thinking/knowing? • If using any personal examples/stories, try to make these abstract or hypothetical • Connect the logical dots—isolate your assumptions, and try to over-explain yourself. Articulate the obvious! • Eliminate cluttery words. Opt for larger words/compound sentences to make your tone sound less

conversational. • Take out any conditional language—might, could, maybe, etc

STEP 6 Add your OREO: – Introduce the quote – Provide any context (if necessary) – Interpret into your own words — what does this mean? What is the author getting at with this idea? – Analyze — why did you choose this quote? What do you have to say about this idea? Remember : If you have more than one quote in your paragraph, make sure you transition seamlessly from one to the other!

STEP 7 Create a topic sentence for each paragraph, summarizing the idea you proved with your evidence. If you have a hard time summarizing all the info in one paragraph, you may need to restructure!

STEP 8 Revisit the working thesis.

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