Rhetorical Analysis Materials

RA #1: Speech

What makes an argument?

We will analyze a speech to determine whether the speech is, in fact, an argument. Alternately, it could be a rant or a collection of claims that do not build an enthymeme. The artifact will be chosen in class.

In this 1.5 page group rhetorical analysis, I would like for you to construct an argument that examines two major questions about the speech:
1.) Is this an argument? Why or why not? Use examples from the “text” (video) to support your claim. Perhaps slow down to explain how you define argument.
2.) What assumptions is the speaker making in this speech? What effect does this have on readers?

RA #2: Commercial/PSA

RA #2 will be the second installment of four rhetorical analyses conducted this semester in your sustained groups.

In this analysis, I would like for your group to find a commercial or public service announcement (any REAL commercial or PSA) and analyze it for the rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, pathos). You’ll want to make a clear connection to audience (and possibly context and purpose), and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin by analyzing ALL appeals but only those that are most significant in the artifact you choose to examine.
This analysis will be 1.5 pages long, double spaced, and your argument should clearly state the “why.” What does your analysis tell us about the commercial/PSA? Why does the commercial/PSA rely on a certain appeal heavily? What impact does this have on readers?

RA #3: Speech

RA #3 is the third rhetorical analyses this semester. In this assignment, you are looking for a speech (entertainment, political, movie, historical, etc) and analyzing it for structure.
Two major types of structure that we could look for are Toulmin’s model (claim, grounds, warrant, backing, qualifier, rebuttal) and Rogerian model (understanding, bridging, seeing the value of claims in an opposing view).
Try to find a speech that uses one model or the other. Not every speech may be a perfect example for analysis. Once you find a speech that works, chart out how that structure is used and then assess how well it is used. Does the author of that speech use all parts of the Toulmin model or all aspects of Toulmin argumentation? What effect does this have on how effective it is?
This analysis will be 1.5 pages long, double spaced, and your analysis should try to state the “why.”

RA #4: Web site

Rhetorical Analysis #4: Web site

Length: 1.5 to 2 pages, double spaced
Sources: None required. Only cite in MLA style the Web site you choose to analyze.

Again? Another rhetorical analysis?

Don’t fret. You’ve entered the home stretch. This is our last of the Rhetorical Analysis assignments this semester (except for a Final Exam question), and you can take your time developing in-depth analyses since it is due several weeks after the other rhetorical analyses.

RA #4 takes us into a new realm of analysis, but not one that will be too daunting for you. Building on previous rhetorical analyses of Kanye West, commercials, and speeches for enthymematic reasoning, rhetorical appeals, and Toulmin or Rogerian arrangement, respectively, you will add visual and multimodal analysis to your skills. In this rhetorical analysis, you might choose to analyze the key assumptions in the enthymematic reasoning or intrinsic ethos or logical fallacies, for example, but you will view images, colors, and potentially sound or video in addition to text.

In class, we will view Chipotle.com and Subway.com, both Web site arguments for fast food restaurants. These Web pages are unique, however, in how they develop ethos, make implications about what a fast food restaurant should be, and reach different target audiences.

Your rhetorical analysis will follow two steps:

1.) You should find ONE Web site that you feel makes an interesting argument. Perhaps it is a site like Chipotle.com where the argument doesn’t seem to match the initial purpose. Or maybe it is like Subway.com in its over-the-top ad partnerships. Please choose an appropriate Web site for analysis.

2.) Analyze what’s interesting about the argument constructed by the company’s Web site. Is it something basic like how the company/person creates credibility? Is there a unique logical structure of the argument (NOTE: Web sites often avoid linear narrative!)? Does the Web site appeal to the audience’s emotions? You could also expand your analysis to visuals and look at the design. Does the Web site’s design (consider layout, use of white space, accessibility to information, use of graphics vs text, colors, fonts, etc.) contribute to the argument? As always, develop a central thesis and use key evidence from the artifact (Web site).

Slow down and explain the “why” with your analysis. For example, don’t just identify ethos but point out what is interesting or worth observing about the site. For example, it is easy to note that Chipotle cares about its credibility as a “green” company, but what is unique about how they go about it? Do they achieve their intended effect?

This 1.5 – 2-page analysis should be double spaced and turned in on Blackboard.

Sample Student Essays

Group RA (.doc file)

Sample 1 RA (.docx file)

Sample 2 RA (.docx file)

Sample 3 RA (.docx file)

Sample 4 RA Toulmin (.docx file)