“Understanding Perspective” Rhetorical Analysis
Purpose: This assignment asks you to examine rhetorical concepts in a text of your choice (from the list below) and use rhetorical terms to analyze the effectiveness of the text in a written argument for an academic audience. The purpose is to develop critical reading and writing skills.
- Herdy, “Have You Ever Met a Monster?” [genre: TED Talk]
- Foster, “The Monster in the Mirror: On Horror, Disability, and Loving Both at Once” [genre: personal essay on a book publisher web site]
- Crockett and Zarracina, “How the Zombie Represents America’s Deepest Fears” [genre: feature article on a journalism website]
Detailed description: Using the rhetorical terms and concepts we have been discussing in class, along with Cohen’s article “Monster Culture: Seven Theses,” in this assignment you will 1) assess how well the author supports and develops their argument and 2) identify which of Cohen’s theses best describes the monster in the text.
You will analyze the author’s audience and purpose; the exigence of their argument; their use of ethical, logical, and emotional appeals; and other rhetorical features of the text, including the author’s or speaker’s word choice/use of special terms, and the inclusion of visual elements like photographs, drawings, or illustrations.
For this assignment, you need to do more than simply provide a “grocery list” of terms describing the rhetorical strategies you identify in the text. That is, you need to do more than just “talk about” the rhetorical strategies. Instead, you will need to put your rhetorical knowledge to work by making an argument of your own: how well do these rhetorical strategies work to make the argument? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the argument? What kind of difference might this text make in the audience’s understanding of the subject matter?
Audience: This is an academic paper for an academic audience. Imagine that your reader is familiar with the ideas about monsters that the authors in your summaries articles write about, and that they have read Cohen’s “Monster Culture” article.
Opening: To start, you need to introduce and summarize the text you are analyzing. Describe the audience(s), the purpose(s), and the exigence. What is the larger context, and how does that matter? You may also find it helpful to provide some information about the rhetor/author. In your introduction, you should indicate your purpose in writing and sum up your own argument. Here, you should make it clear what rhetorical strategies you are focusing on. (We’ll develop some examples of strong thesis statements in class.) The paragraphs that follow should be organized, focused, and well-developed. Don’t rush through the analysis; take your time to do a close reading and describe the examples from the text(s) you’re analyzing. Consider how well the rhetorical strategies work for the author or speaker’s intended audiences.
Thesis: Make your thesis clear. Your argument may be that the author’s rhetorical strategies are mostly effective, partially effective, or effective for some audiences but not for others, because of certain rhetorical aspects of the text or ways the text responds to (or doesn’t respond to) the exigence. You may not know for sure how well the argument works until after you write your analysis, so be ready to revise your thesis.
Structure: Develop your body paragraphs logically, following a least important to most important structure. Use specific examples from the text to support your points, showing how the rhetorical strategy in question works (or does not work). You may quote, but do so sparingly. If you do quote the author or speaker, make sure you are quoting exactly, and use quotation marks.
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