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How to write a rhetorical analysis
Difference between… Argumentative
You are asked to support, refute or qualify. You are writing about YOUR opinion on a given topic. You may use “I” sparingly. Rhetorical Analysis You are analyzing someone else’s argument. You DO NOT use “I” at all. You do not give your opinion on the topic, rather you analyze how someone else gives his opinion.
Difference between… Argumentative
Draw on examples from your life, other classes, your readings, etc. to develop an argument for or against something. Rhetorical analysis Stick within the “four corners” (meaning only what is on the page) of the essay or speech you are analyzing.
Step One Closely Read: 1. CAREFULLY read the passage.
2. Figure out what the speaker’s main point is. Be as certain as you can possibly be (think Foundation). 3. Read it again, labeling the main rhetorical strategies the speaker uses. 4. Determine a strategy of how you will write the rhetorical analysis essay. (strategies on the following slides)
Choose your strategy: Strategy A:
Choose three or more (as many as you can) main rhetorical devices that the writer uses, such as parallelism, imagery, and rhetorical question. (ALERT: do NOT use “diction”) With this strategy, you will discuss the main rhetorical devices in order of importance. Be sure to not only identify the devices/strategies, but to explain how each strategy helps the writer achieve his or her purpose, how the strategy has an impact on the audience.
Choose your strategy: Strategy B:
Think “Structure” from Liu Method, add “music” as you see fit to discuss it. Go through the paper structurally. Go paragraph by paragraph and discuss the key elements in each main part of the essay/speech. In this strategy, you will discuss the strategies used in the order by which they appear.
Introduction to either strategy:
Introduce the title of the piece and the author. Think brief version of SOAPStone, or at least the parts of SOAPStone that are relevant. For thesis, think Liu Method, Foundation: In his essay ___________________________ (title of the essay), _____________________________(author) argues that _________________________________. To prove his points he uses __________________________, _________________________ and _____________________.
In response to an essay by Salmon Rushdie on the benefits of moving, Scott Russell Sanders refutes “the belief that movement is inherently good.” He claims that we should root ourselves in places rather than ideas, that we should care for the earth rather than for our own selfish desires. Through his use of direct quotes, acknowledgement of the counter-argument, and informal yet respectful tone, Sanders relates his belief that we must settle down and cease our tireless moving if we are to ever “pay enough heed and respect to where we are” (Sanders).
Possible thesis template…
In his essay/book/speech, ______________________________(essay title), __________________(speaker) uses ____________________(rhetorical device #1), ________________________rhetorical device #2), and ____________________(rhetorical device #3) to convince his audience that ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ (claim).
Body Paragraphs Pointing out the rhetorical device is just the beginning. The most important part of the analysis is where you discuss why the device is effective, explaining what it does for the argument in particular, and/or what the device does for the essay as a whole. NEVER define what the strategy is. (Don’t say “A rhetorical question is a question for which no response is required.”) Rather, point out the strategy, give a quote to show the strategy, and then explain how the strategy is used to help the writer achieve his or her overall purpose. Answer: how do these words effect the audience? Remember ICE = introduce, cite, explain the significance.
A word about “diction” Don’t use “diction” as a rhetorical device.
If you do discuss diction, remember to discuss what kind of diction it is: formal diction, informal diction, strong diction, violent or peaceful diction, colorful diction, etc. Only discuss it in relation to the tone or some other rhetorical strategy.
Ethos, pathos, logos Remember, if you choose to discuss these strategies, use “Appeal to ethos, appeal to pathos, and appeal to logos.”
Conclusion Simply restate the thesis, briefly revisit main points. Don’t spend too much time on the conclusion. Spend the majority of your time on the body paragraphs.
Non-gender specific language
Rather than “mankind” say “humankind” or “humanity.
Read Sample Papers 1) Highlight the following in the papers:
Thesis = Yellow Identifying Rhetorical Strategy or Device = Green Explaining how the rhetorical device or strategy helps the writer achieve his purpose = Pink 2) Write a number on each paper reflecting the grade you think the College Board assigned. Write a good paragraph ( 5 – 7 sentences) justifying the grade you have assigned the paper, using language from the rubric.
Homework: Timed Write at home!
Give yourself 45 minutes to write a rhetorical analysis Question #2 from 2007 Tomorrow: We will peer score, after looking at sample responses. 20 points participation points – must write at least full 2 pages. (handwritten – blue or black ink)
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