Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis | WRTG 1160 | Sp 2020
Rhetorical Analysis
Shorts answers + a 2-page essay
First draft due 2/19 on your laptop in class
Final draft due 2/21 in Canvas
Rhetoric is defined as “the study, practice, and art of effective communication.” Analysis is the
process of breaking something down into its component parts to understand how and why it works.
In any kind of text (written, visual, multimedia) the author is communicating with a particular
audience for a particular purpose in a particular context. Authors need to make rhetorical choices
that best accomplish their purpose and appeal to their intended audiences. A rhetorical analysis is a
“close, critical reading of a text … to figure out exactly how it functions” (Everything’s an Argument
98). Your job, when you perform a rhetorical analysis, is to read or view a text closely and analyze
the strategies the authors use to convey their message, ultimately deciding whether the strategies are
effective or not.
We encounter rhetoric everywhere in our daily lives – in memes, tweets, advertisements, headlines,
articles, news broadcasts, flyers, speeches, podcasts, video games – and we are constantly influenced
by it, whether we are consciously aware or not. Rhetoric is designed to affect us in many different
ways, including to change our beliefs, to convince us to follow a brand or buy a product or use a
service, to persuade us to support a cause or a politician, and to encourage us to take action, among
other things.
In this assignment, you will perform a rhetorical analysis of a text that you encounter in your
everyday life in order to understand how the rhetoric attempts to impact its audience.
The text you choose can be about anything, but it must be primarily visual and also include a
written or spoken component. Your analysis will consider how the images and words (and other
multimedia elements, if applicable) work together to create the message and influence the audience.
For example, you could choose a meme, an advertisement, a political cartoon, a flyer, a social media
post, a short video (no more than 1 minute), a book cover, a cereal box or other product packaging, a
web page – almost any genre you can think of as long as it has visual and written or spoken elements.
Make sure that the text you choose is substantial enough for you to write roughly two pages about its
rhetorical strategies. Also, choose a text that is current and relevant to you in some way. In other
words, don’t just Google “good text for rhetorical analysis” and pick something random. If you do
choose a text from the past, explain how you came across it now and explain the original historical
• Respond to the four Rhetorical Analysis Questions with short answers. Answer the questions
individually using complete sentences. Number your answers on your paper.
• Then, write a 600-or-so-word essay analyzing the rhetorical strategies. See prompts below for
o You probably won’t be able to analyze every single element of your chosen text in a
two-page-ish essay, so select the elements that you think are the most important.
• Include a copy of the text you’re analyzing, or a link to it, along with your analysis.
Rhetorical Analysis | WRTG 1160 | Sp 2020
1. Who is the author or creator of the text? If you don’t know that, do you know where the text
was published? If you have no idea about the author, publisher, or even the origin of the text,
note that. Does your knowledge (or lack thereof) about the author affect your understanding
of the text?
2. Who is the intended audience for this text? How do you know? Be specific. Refer to
examples in the text that indicate who the writer’s intended audience is. (“Everyone” is not
an acceptable answer! Describe key characteristics of the audience. What are some values
and beliefs the audience holds that might affect their response to the text?
3. What is the purpose of this text? (That is, what does the author want the intended audience to
do or think after viewing or reading this text?)
4. What is the context for this text? (Where did you find it? Where and when was it originally
published or distributed, if you can find that out? What other relevant parts of the context
help us understand the text – social, political, historical, cultural factors? Other?)
In approximately 600 words (the equivalent of roughly two pages double-spaced), analyze the
rhetorical strategies the text employs to influence the intended audience. Is this text effective in
conveying its message to its audience? Why or why not? How is the rhetoric at work in the details of
the text? What rhetorical appeals (pathos, logos, ethos, kairos) does the text make use of? Consider
all elements of the text in your analysis, including words, images, font, color, sound, tone, style, and
anything else you notice. Refer to specific examples in the text to support your response.
Brief reminder about the appeals:
• Pathos: How does the essay appeal to readers’ emotions, values, beliefs? What emotions,
values, beliefs, specifically, does the writing evoke?
• Logos: How does the text use reason, logic, and evidence? Does it make analogies, use
inductive or deductive reasoning, provide good examples, and/or refer to credible research
and statistics? Do you notice any logical fallacies in the text?
• Ethos: How does the writing establish credibility? How does the author establish trust with
the audience?
• Kairos: How is the author “making the most of the moment”? How is the text timely? Does
it make use of the opportune time and place to convey its message? Does it reflect something
about the time and/or place in which it is published?

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