Before you take the plunge into analysis, it is important to understand the difference between
analysis and description. So often, we think we’re offering an analysis and nuanced
understanding about a piece when we are actually just describing what is obvious. For this
assignment, you will practice understanding the difference.
First, you will provide a 1-page description of the essay you have chosen for the upcoming
rhetorical analysis. Some questions you might consider in this description are: who is the
author?; what is the publication and target audience; what is the argument about?; what evidence
After the description, you’ll start some movement towards your analysis by answering questions
that might get you started (the answers should be about a paragraph long—no less than 4
1.) What are some patterns or areas of interest you’re starting to notice within the essay?
2.) Why do you think some of those elements are being used with their target audience in
3.) Start to form a thesis draft. How might you move those elements of how the author
argues into an overarching argument for your essay?
4.) Who is YOUR audience? Do they differ from the author’s? If so, why might they care
about this argument and analysis? If not, why do they need to understand the essay in the
way you’re analyzing it? (A bit of advice: avoid the “My audience is my instructor, and
she will care because she wants me to do well in the course.” Think further about the
makeup of the classroom and why they might care, for example, about the implicit issue
of gender in one of the readings.)
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