Rhetorical Analysis Assignment Sheet

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Points: 100
For your second paper of the semester, you will be writing a rhetorical analysis of a pop culture artifact utilizing techniques we discussed in class and on Blackboard. The purpose of this assignment is to have you perform a rhetorical analysis of a piece of pop culture; to experiment with pre-writing techniques; to work with crafting an effective thesis statement and selecting relevant details to support general conclusions; to focus on writing engaging introductions and conclusions; to consider questions of voice, audience, and purpose; to work with selecting and integrating appropriate strategies of development; to experiment with different revision processes; and, overall, to move toward a persuasive academic writing style.
Directions: Using the strategies discussed in class, you will analyze a pop culture artifact (an episode, storyline, song, character, etc, small enough to be analyzed in depth in the page limit, but long enough to be complete) of your choosing and write a 3- 4 page paper describing how the author / speaker employs the rhetorical techniques discussed in the course, contextual or situational factors that are relevant to the work and whether or not the author successfully accomplished his or her purpose, based upon the elements of the rhetorical situation and use of rhetorical appeals.
You should, at a minimum address the following:
• Author: (Who is the author / speaker? What credentials does s/he have?)
Rhetorical Situation (including the following): • Purpose: (What is the author trying to accomplish? – Why did the author feel the need to craft this artifact?) • Audience: (To whom is the artifact addressed?) • Context: (What are influencing factors surrounding the artifact?) • Voice: (What is the overall tone of the Artifact?) • Effectiveness? (Is the speaker / author rhetorically effective? Does the artifact “move” you? Does the artifact convincingly get you to think critically/differently about the topic/subject matter?).
Argument (including the following): How does the author/creator utilize each of the appeals (logos, ethos, and pathos). Why is the timing of the artifact important? Why now? (Kairos)
Process:
1. Find Your artifact. Select a piece of popular culture that moves you and/or seems to address a larger element in society. For this assignment, it is best to consider artifacts that are concise and small enough to analyze in-depth, but large enough to be complete (ie, an entire episode, a character over the course of a season, a chapter that has a complete story, a song—a movie would, for this, probably be too large.
2. Consider The Rhetorical Situation: Listen / watch the artifact several times over the course of different times/days, paying special attention to not only what the speaker is saying, but perhaps more importantly, how their ideas are presented. Consider the purpose, language used, diction, dialect, etc. Think about the rhetorical situation (issues of purpose, audience, context, voice, strategies, etc.) in terms of the creator’s choices. [Hint: you will want to at least touch on all of the elements mentioned above, as each of these elements (inter)act upon the others]. A word of caution; however, don’t try to write in-depth about all of the elements of appeal and rhetorical situations, or your paper may quickly become unmanageable. Likewise, beware of not going into enough detail or not covering the relevant elements. There is a delicate balance you have to find between these two strategies – one for which there is, unfortunately, no hard fast set of rules for how to accomplish this. While you will need to address all elements, you may wish to focus on those elements most relevant to the artifact you choose (going into greater depth for those), and go into less depth for those which are not as relevant.

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3. Consider the Argument/Message: You should address all three elements of rhetorical appeals (Ethos, Logos, and Pathos). How does (or does not) the creator / author utilize one (or all) of these three approaches? Note: texts rarely utilize only one of the appeals, but rather typically utilize elements of all three.
4. Consider the Visual Elements: Consider the cinematography of an episode, character’s appearance/description. Music video if using a song.A common method for analyzing a text’s visual design is to step back and simply look at it. How does the artifact present itself to you? Are there features of the artifact that seem to “jump out” at you? Are there features that seem to recede into the background? Look at the use of color (if applicable). Does the author / speaker use images or other visual elements to enhance the artifact’s effectiveness?
5. Develop a Clear Thesis Statement: This is perhaps the most critical step in the writing process. You must ask yourself, “What is my purpose for writing this analysis?” A thesis statement should reflect what you do in your analysis (i.e. a thesis statement is a roadmap for the rest of your analysis). Do not simply restate the speaker’s original thesis (remember the elements of the rhetorical situation — your purpose is different than the original speaker’s). In addition to stating your stance, your thesis should provide the reader with a clear direction of where you’re heading (e.g. what’s your topic/issue?, what are your units of analysis?, what conclusion do your come to?, and/or what is the significance of your work?).
6. Support your Thesis Statement: The body of your analysis should be devoted to supporting evidence for your thesis statement (i.e. it should follow your roadmap). This will entail techniques of direct quotation, paraphrasing, and your own assessment. Do not simply summarize what the author has already stated (this is your analysis. Your paragraphs should each, subsequently, address the various rhetorical elements and the aspects of the rhetorical situation of the original essay (hint: you should limit yourself to one particular element/aspect per paragraph). Be sure each paragraph directly addresses your thesis statement. Headings could be beneficial here.
Note: for several of the rhetorical elements, you may have to go outside of the original artifact, to find the appropriate information (e.g. you may need to do a little research to find the creator’s background, what was happening, in the world, at the time the artifact was produced and aired, etc.), if these things are relevant. For each point you want to make in your analysis, you will want to give examples to support your claims. Using examples to support your claims will help your reader understand why you are making the claim you are making.
7. State your Conclusion

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Rhetorical Analysis Assignment Sheet

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