Practicing Rhetorical Analysis

https://aeon.co/essays/there-be-monsters-from-cabinets-of-curiosity-to-demons-within

A note: You will not be able to complete this assignment if you have not reviewed the powerpoints on rhetoric or read “A History of Monsters.” You need to do these things first.

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ACME WRITERS

The assignment: For this assignment, you will need to produce a short rhetorical analysis of Natalie Lawrence’s essay, “A History of Monsters.” This is a rather short assignment of only about 500 words in length and the purpose is really to get you to think about how to approach someone’s writing as rhetoric. In order to do this, one of the things you have to do is assume that the person is making an argument, or that they’re trying to convince the reader of something. You also need to be able to identify moments in the author’s writing in which you can find them developing this argument. Moreover, you need to be able to analyze those moments for how they function to support the main argument. Below, I’ve outlined how you should try to do these things with Lawrence’s essay:

–In the first paragraph, you need to explain what you think Lawrence is really arguing. She’s giving us a history of monsters of course, but presenting a history is not really making an argument at all. Beyond the history of monsters, Lawrence is also attempting to elaborate a claim about what monsters have meant historically and how our modern world might change or affect that. Your job is to sum up Lawrence’s argument, and to explain your thinking. What’s her main claim, and why is it important to know that?

–In the second paragraph, you need to find a passage in Lawrence’s writing that clearly shows her developing this argument. You should quote it directly and analyze it. Where would it fit in Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle? Is it more rooted in ethos, pathos or logos, and why? How does this categorization help you to better understand what Lawrence is trying to do? Finally, does it make sense to categorize this passage according to any of the other rhetorical modes, listed on the second powerpoint? If so, which modes does she use and what do they tell us about her argument? (you may repeat this process for another body paragraph if you have the space/time to do so).

ACME WRITERS

–In the final paragraph, make a judgment about the value of Lawrence’s argument, now that you’ve sized it up doing some rhetorical analysis. Did your analysis find any particular strengths in her argument that you hadn’t noticed at first? If so, what are they? Did your analysis find any weaknesses in her argument that you hadn’t noticed at first? If so, what are they? How did the rhetorical analysis change your understanding of Lawrence’s argument? Be specific here. No broad statements like “this analysis really helped me to understand what Lawrence was trying to say.” Be specific, focused on the text, and the ideas and arguments in it.

                                                                                                                        ACME Writers