RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT


The goal of this assignment is to think critically and carefully about the presentation of arguments in samples of visual
rhetoric. When performing a visual rhetorical analysis, it is important not only to focus on the main message of a visual
text and the context in which it was produced and received but also how the designer creates the intended message
through the use of various rhetorical strategies and appeals.
Students have the option of an academic rhetorical analysis essay or a creative analysis project based on one of the
visual arguments provided in the Rhetorical Analysis folder in Blackboard.
Follow the principles in Lunsford Chapter 13 to produce an effective rhetorical analysis. Study the “Characteristic
Features” on page 206. The chapter covers four types of analysis, so see pages 209-13 for specific information about
rhetorical analysis. Because you will be analyzing a message or argument from another communicator, Lunsford,
Chapters 17-18 will also be useful. In this course, we will be analyzing texts that have words as well as images. Both
elements should be discussed in your essay or project.
Your finished essay or project should communicate to your readers/viewers the most outstanding and powerful
approaches used to target an audience and “sell” the product, whatever it may be. Begin by doing an audience analysis
of your particular visual. You should analyze the strategies used in the ad, video, or picture and explain their effects in
detail. After reading your essay or viewing your project, your audience should know the strategies used in the original
visual text, along with what message is sent, and what impact this has on the specific audience.
Be sure that you move your paper or project beyond being a mechanical exercise that simply points out pathos, logos,
ethos, and kairos in your text – these concepts should inform your analysis, but you should produce a paper or project
that is a sophisticated discussion of how rhetorical appeals function in the visual text. Focus on how the text works not
simply what it conveys; discuss how the use of rhetorical appeals determines the effectiveness of the visual argument,
and don’t get distracted into arguing passionately a particular position or extolling the beauty/creativity of the text.
Audience: For this assignment, you will write for a professional and scholarly audience including other researchers of
your topic. Consider that you may be writing for an advertising or publishing firm, explaining the strategies used in a
particular ad, video, or photograph. Your audience is intensely interested in the most effective product possible, and
you have been asked to analyze this particular image and text.
Sources: In addition to the text you analyze, you must use at least two sources, and you must accurately give credit for
the information you use from those sources. Use only scholarly, credible sources from individuals or organizations
with verifiable expertise on the topic.
Every writer should spend time researching his or her topic in the library databases, which are likely to yield the best
sources. To access the library databases while off-campus, the user name is RCC5268, and the password is TX77511.
Potential research sources include the following:
In our textbook, essays on advertisement-related topics. See inside back cover under “Analysis.”
Other articles, essays, and editorials about advertising. Search reputable news sources and the library
databases.
Books and documentaries about advertising issues (e.g. POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever
Sold, Programming the Nation?, Art & Copy
)
Essays and articles that explore the publication history, the art work, or another aspect of the advertisement.
Political, economic, or historical information about any issues presented in the images. Search the library
databases.
For older or classic advertisements, historical information about the time of publication may also be relevant.
TOPICS
This assignment is limited to the options in Blackboard.
Analyze one of the visual arguments for its immediate and broader contexts: its purpose, its target audience and how
the visual text identifies them, and its cultural context. What message does the visual text convey, and how does it
communicate this message to viewers? For the billboard advertisement, also consider how the brand fits in with the
specific locale/site in order to create positive exposure.

Analysis 2
FORMAT PROPOSAL
Before you begin your analysis, you should determine the direction you wish to take to present your work. Projects are
most dynamic when you care about the subject and understand your chosen medium. Write a paragraph describing the
direction in which you intend to take for the rhetorical analysis.
This includes students who choose to write an
academic essay.
Address why you have chosen the specific medium. Create a thread in the Format Proposal discussion
forum and submit the paragraph.
DEADLINES AND SUBMISSION METHODS
Follow the deadlines and submission methods for each part of this assignment as listed on your Course Calendar.
OPTION 1: RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY
Write a rhetorical analysis of 1050-1,400 words based on one of the choices provided in Blackboard.
Format: Prepare your essay in MLA style.
GRADING CRITERIA
In addition to the general information provided in the syllabus, rhetorical analysis essays will be graded using the
following criteria:

Content
(30 points)
As explained in Lunsford, Chapter 13, effective rhetorical analyses will be guided by
a question that prompts you to take a closer look at the subject
As described in Lunsford, Chapter 13, effective rhetorical analyses will include
some description of the subject you are analyzing
evidence drawn from close examination of the subject
insight gained from your analysis
clear, precise language
Share with readers your conclusions about the message this text conveys and how it appeals to its
readers.
Avoid merely summarizing the author’s points, and avoid agreeing/disagreeing with the
author. Your purpose is to analyze, not to advance or attack the author’s point.
The essay should meet the assigned word range: 1050-1,400 words. When you check the word
count of your essay, remember that headings, titles, and works cited pages do not count.
Organization
(25 points)
The essay must include a thesis statement, and the thesis should be placed near the end of the
introduction.
All body paragraphs should support the main idea expressed in the thesis, and each body
paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that expresses the main idea of that paragraph.
Body paragraphs should be arranged logically with transitional devices to assist readers in
following the chosen organizational pattern.
Mechanics & Style
(20 points)
Effective essays will be nearly free of mistakes in grammar and punctuation.
Style should be appropriate to audience and purpose.
Documentation
(15 points)
Include appropriate signal phrases and citations for your sources so that readers feel they can trust
your information.
Essays should use MLA documentation style guidelines for both parenthetical citations and the
Works Cited page.
Format
(10 points)
Essays should be formatted using MLA style guidelines. See the sample essay that begins on page
574.

Analysis 3
OPTION 2: CREATIVE ANALYSIS PROJECT
The project will be a media representation of your rhetorical analysis. While I strongly encourage students to complete
a digital story, other forms are also acceptable.
The instructor must approve the format. (PowerPoint presentations
will not be allowed.)
The project must be able to be circulated. Therefore, your work should be hosted on one of the
free Web platforms or digital storytelling applications such as Adobe Spark, Vimeo, YouTube, Weebly, Wix, or
WordPress. Comprehension, originality, and excellence will be measured. Do not hesitate to ask questions throughout
your process.
WHAT IS A DIGITAL STORY?
A digital story is a combination of narrative and digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create and
distribute a story. As with a written essay, the elements of a digital story should be structured in a way that easily
conveys the information to the viewer; therefore, the images, still and/or moving, in your project must be
compositionally strong as well as educational.
PRESENTATION STATEMENT
You will include the presentation statement in your final project. Your statement is a basic introduction to your project,
a first impression. People who come into contact with the project and want to know more will have questions. When
you’re not there, your presentation statement will answer for you. You can write it in the first person (avoid second
person), and instill it with your unique perspective.
The Presentation Statement of the project should:
introduce the original source for the project
speak about your research and include a list of sources
speak about your individual creative process
add a conclusion
GRADING CRITERIA
In addition to the general information provided in the syllabus, rhetorical analysis projects will be graded using the
following criteria:

Content
(30 points)
As explained in Lunsford, Chapter 13, effective rhetorical analyses will be guided by
a question that prompts you to take a closer look at the subject
As described in Lunsford, Chapter 13, effective rhetorical analyses will include
some description of the subject you are analyzing
evidence drawn from close examination of the subject
insight gained from your analysis
clear, precise language
Share with readers/viewers your conclusions about the message this text conveys and how it
appeals to its readers.
Avoid merely summarizing the author’s points, and avoid
agreeing/disagreeing with the author. Your purpose is to analyze, not to advance or attack the
author’s point.
The project should show sophisticated synthesis of information that is insightful and well
supported by details from the text and other sources.
Projects should demonstrate a strong individual voice, narrative arc, and point of view.

Analysis 4

Organization
(25 points)
The project must include a thesis statement, and the thesis should be placed near the beginning
of the project.
The project has exceptionally attractive formatting and well-organized information.
Graphics go well with the text, and there is a good mix of text and graphics.
The text is well polished, clear, and concise, and there are no grammatical or mechanical
mistakes in the project.
Transitions, effects, audio, and edits are appropriate to the subject matter and add to the flow of
the project.
Creativity
(15 points)
The project shows:
an excellent integration of content with the novelty of catching the audience’s attention
originality and innovation in composition and delivery
Style should be appropriate to audience and purpose.
Presentation
Statement &
Transcript
(20 points)
The statement:
introduces the project
speaks about research and creative process
describes a clear purpose
adds a conclusion
A transcript of the project must be submitted with the project.
Documentation
(10 points)
All sources are cited in MLA format.
All copyrighted material, if used, is identified and used with written permission.

Reference: “7 Things You Should Know about Digital Storytelling.” Educause Learning Initiative.
www.educause.edu/eli.

Last Updated on