Essay 2: Rhetorical Analysis
You will argue for your interpretation of the text.
A rhetorical analysis of a text examines a text rhetorically. The meaning of the word text depends on how creative you want to get. A text can be a book, article, consumer product, movie, advertisement, or commercial, to name a few. For this assignment you will pick a text, define, describe, and analyze the rhetorical context and/or argument the text is making. All texts have an author or authors and are created with a purpose. A rhetorical analysis helps us to understand the purpose it was created for and what it is saying or arguing.
Consider the ethos, pathos, and logos of the text. What appeals are being used in the text you are analyzing? Ethos – appeals to character. Pathos – emotional appeals. Logos – appeals to reason and evidence.
What to look at for a Rhetorical Analysis
- Consider the topic.
- Consider the audiences of the text.
- Consider the author.
- Consider the medium and design.
- Examine the language.
- Consider the occasion.
Be specific when referring to your text. Have the text in front of you if you can. Then you can reference specifics and avoid generalizations.
A Checklist for Analyzing Images (Especially Advertisements) on page 145 of our textbook is very thorough and helpful for analyzing images.
- 1500 words in length
- 3 to 5 credible sources
- Works Cited
- Image of text or the advertisement itself as featured image
- Clear thesis and introduction
- Use of ethos, pathos, and logos
- Well-supported claims
- Specific references and details from the text
- A conclusion tying together your analysis
Remember, this is a formal assignment, make sure you are using appropriate tone and diction! Talk about the text, not what you think about the text!
Let’s look at a speech and then we will do a rhetorical analysis.
“Intellectual empathy requires us to think within the viewpoints of others, especially those we think are wrong” (Elder and Paul).
This is a very difficult thing to do. To try to understand others viewpoints is hard because it requires us to move past our own thinking. But it is crucial in developing as a critical thinker.
To empathize means to not assume that your perspective may not be the most reasonable one. Trying on other perspectives helps us better understand the world. You should not be afraid to engage with opposing viewpoints, this is valuable to you because you gain new insight and expand your views.
But how can we practice this?
Look for example where someone disagrees with you or you disagree with someone else’s position.
Try to accurately state their position. You can ask them if you stated it correctly.
You can also ask someone you disagree with to state how they understand what you are saying.
Notice when people distort your position or if you distort their position.
Strategies for Empathizing
When you disagree, switch roles with someone. Try to see it from their point of view. Try to better understand one another.
Summarize what the position is. You first need to understand what they are actually saying, otherwise this could be a fallacy.
When reading, try to think about what the author is saying and why? Do not assume they are wrong, try to understand why they have that position.