A rhetorical analysis is a form of close reading that examines the rhetorical interactions between a text, an author,

A rhetorical analysis is a form of close reading that examines the rhetorical interactions between a text, an author, and an audience. To write a rhetorical analysis, you need to be able to determine how the creator of the original work attempts to make his or her argument; based on this reading of the text, you should also talk about whether or not that argument is successful.

For this assignment, you will rhetorically analyze an argument made in a written text or video presentation (see list below; you will choose from the list below)


In addition to being well-written and organized, the most successful responses to this assignment will do the following (these are not listed in any particular order):

  • Describe the rhetorical situation (purpose and target audience) surrounding the text under analysis and accurately present the ideas contained in the argument, including the ethos of the author/speaker
  • Include a clear and precise thesis statement (an analytical claim with reasons about how the text is or is not successful)
  • Explain and analyze how the author builds and presents their argument, providing evidence from the text to support your statements.
  • Explain and analyze how the author may have connected with or failed to connect with the audience, providing evidence to support your statements.
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of how the appeals are working in the text (Go beyond merely referencing Logos, Ethos, and Pathos).
  • Include a works cited page. When you quote from the text or summarize or paraphrasespecific portions, you must include proper MLA in-text citations. It is acceptable to have only the source itself on this page. You don’t necessarily need to research it, but if you do, be careful. It will be very easy to plagiarize here. See me if you have questions/concerns. 



  • Your essay should be between two and three pages in length or 600-800 words.
  • This paper must be formatted in accordance with MLA style, which includes a works cited page, proper margins, font, line spacing, headers, etc.
  • Style should be formal, including diction and tone, and no explicit 1st or 2nd person pronouns (that’s “I” and “you” and all their expressions)



Student Learning Outcomes

In order to successfully complete this assignment, you must demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Develop Rhetorical Knowledge
    • Focus on rhetorical situation, audience, and purpose.
    • Read, annotate, and analyze texts in at least one genre of academic discourse.
    • Use voice, tone, format, and structure appropriately.
    • Write and read texts written in at least one genre for an academic discourse community.
    • Learn reflective strategies.
  • Develop Experience in Writing
    • Learn recursive strategies for generating ideas, revising, editing, and proofreading.
    • Learn to critique one’s own work and the work of others.
  • Develop Critical and Creative Thinking
    • Identify context.
    • Present a position.
    • Establish a conclusion indicated by the context that expresses a personal interpretation.
  • Use Sources and Evidence
    • Select appropriate evidence.
    • Consider the relevance of evidence.
  • Develop Application of Composing Conventions
    • Apply genre conventions, including structure, paragraphing, tone, mechanics, syntax, and style.
    • Use appropriate vocabulary, format, and documentation.


Steps to Completion (see Interim Deadlines earlier)

  1. Choose from texts listed below. Don’t be afraid of the longer texts—in many ways, they may be the easiest because you have so much to choose from. Research the context of your text (Who said/wrote this? When? Where? Was it in response to something? Etc.)
  2. Read, annotate, read, annotate, read, annotate. You will need to read the text multiple times. If you are analyzing a video or speech, you will need a printed transcript as well. If you are analyzing a video or speech, you will both view/listen as well as read the transcript in order to get a firm understanding of the text. (Remember, text is more than just print!)
  3. Do a SPACE CAT analysis—write it out to help your thinking. Then select the two or three things you feel most comfortable with and write an outline.
  4. Look at the literal meaning and what lies beneath. Is there a symbolic meaning? How has time treated this text (if applicable)? Are there any evident logical fallacies, even if the reasoning seems sound to you? 
  5. Develop a clear thesis and line up specific evidence from the text to support your thesis. This evidence will be direct quotes. 
  6. Be able to explain exactly how that evidence supports your thesis. 
  7. Write a rough draft and have it ready at the start of class on Monday, October 25th. Check the feedback you receive, and incorporate it into . . . 
  8. . . . the Mary Poppins draft (practically perfect in every way/the best you can do) and have it ready at the start of class on Monday, November 1st .
  9. Take the feedback from your MP draft and write a final, perfect paper and submit in D2L before midnight on Sunday, November 7th . 


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