Intro to Rhetorical Analysis
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.
- 1200+ 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.
Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” Speech
- How is he appealing to each?
- What is his argument?
- Do you find him persuasive?
Ethos: Appeals to Ethics, Credibility or Character. Ethics, ethical, trustworthiness or reputation, style/tone. The credibility of the speaker persuades.
Pathos: Appeals to Emotion. Emotional or imaginative impact, stories, values. Uses emotional response to persuade an audience.
Logos: Appeals to logic. Persuade by reason and evidence.
Visuals and “I Have a Dream” Speech
The now famous speech “I have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King was aided by visuals when it was delivered.
He is at the Washington Monument, speaking to hundreds of thousands, smiling and waving. Behind him is the Lincoln Memorial.
This image shows him speaking with people and some police behind him. The image you choose to use will add meaning to your text. Be careful which images you choose.
What does it say if we use his mug shot from one of the many protests he was arrested at?
Or this one.
Have you ever seen this image of Dr. King?
Or this one?
The image your choose can help your audience understand your argument.
Why I, as a black man, attend KKK rallies. | Daryl Davis | TEDxNaperville
- Weekly Critical Reading Journal
- Read Chapter 5, Writing an Analysis of an Argument