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WRITING A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS. WHAT IS A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS? An examination of how a text persuades us of its point of view. An application of your critical.

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Presentation on theme: "WRITING A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS. WHAT IS A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS? An examination of how a text persuades us of its point of view. An application of your critical."— Presentation transcript:


2 WHAT IS A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS? An examination of how a text persuades us of its point of view. An application of your critical reading skills to break down the “whole” of a text into the sum of its “parts.” An attempt to determine what the writer is trying to achieve, and what writing strategies he/she is using to try to achieve it.

3 READING CRITICALLY Analyzing and understanding how the work achieved its effect. Questions to consider: 1.What is the general subject? Does the subject mean anything to you? Is the subject a controversial one? 2.What is the thesis? How does the thesis interpret/comment on the subject? 3.What is the tone of the text? Do you react at an emotional level to the text? Does this reaction change at all throughout the text? 4.What is the writer’s purpose? To explain, inform, anger, persuade, amuse, motivate, sadden, ridicule? Is there more than one purpose? Does the purpose shift throughout the text? 5.How does the writer develop his/her ideas? Narration, description, comparison, analogy, cause and effect, example? Why does the writer use these methods of development?

4 QUESTIONS CONT. 6.How does the writer arrange his/her ideas? What are the patterns of arrangement? Particular to general? Broad to specific? Spatial? Chronological? Alternating? 7.Is the text unified and coherent? Are there adequate transitions? How do the transitions work? 8.What is the sentence structure like in the text? Does the writer use fragments or run-ons? Declarative, imperative, interrogative, exclamatory? Compound, complex, compound- complex? Short, long, loose, periodic, balanced, parallel? Are there patterns in the sentence structure? Can you make any connections between the patterns and the writer’s purpose? 9.Does the writer use dialogue, quotations? To what effect? 10.How does the writer use diction? Is it formal? Informal? Jargon? Slang?

5 QUESTIONS CONT. 11.Is the language connotative? Denotative? Is the language emotionally evocative? Does the language change throughout the piece? 12.How does the language contribute to the writer’s aim? 13.Is there anything unusual in the writer’s punctuation? What punctuation or other techniques of emphasis (italics, capitals, underlining, ellipses, parentheses) does the writer use? Is punctuation over- or under used? Which marks does the writer use when, and for what effects? Dashes to create a hasty breathlessness? Semi-colons for balance or contrast? 14.Are important terms repeated throughout the text? Why? 15.Are there any particular vivid images that stand out? What effect do these images have on the writer’s purpose?

6 QUESTIONS CONT. 16.Are devices of comparison used to convey or enhance meaning? Which tropes: similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, etc. does the writer use? When does he/she use them? Why? 17.Does the writer use devices of humor? Puns? Irony? Sarcasm? Understatement? Parody? Is the effect comic relief? Pleasure? Hysteria? Ridicule?

7 WHAT DOES IT FOCUS ON? Identifying and investigating the way a text communicates What strategies it employs to Connect to an audience Frame an issue Establish its stakes Make a particular claim, support it, and persuade the audience to accept the claim. It is not an analysis of what a text says, but of what strategies it uses to communicate effectively.

8 HOW TO BEGIN Begin your analysis with what the text says – its argument. The work of the essay is to show how the text persuades us of its position. Think of the piece as an engine whose machinations produce particular results. An analysis of the engine examines all the parts, how they work in isolation and together to see how the engine does what it does, or makes what it makes.

9 THE PROCESS OF WRITING FIRST STAGE: pouring out our first impressions, our “first take on a text or subject. Draft, notes or outline Describe the general meaning/message of piece. Do the same for more specific, particular effects. The begin your examination of the piece’s strategies by looking at whether/ how the work signals in any way its audience, purpose, and context.

10 THE PROCESS OF WRITING STAGE TWO: identify the most prominent strategies the piece uses to produce the meaning/ effect you have described. Use of terms and concepts such as: Aristotelian appeals, metaphor, metonymy, analogy, tone, diction, syntax, etc. Look in particular for any patterns that are developed by the work. Decide what seem to be the most important elements of the work for you – that is, identify what is for you the most striking, meaningful effects of the work and methods used to achieve them (will help hone in on a thesis).

11 THE PROCESS OF WRITING STAGE THREE: craft a few sentences that explain why, in your view, the piece works the way it does. Try to craft these sentences so that they set up, first, a description of what the meaning/effect of the piece is, and, second, what strategies, elements, etc. help produce that meaning/effect. Then isolate the textual evidence you will use – probably only a portion of what you have noted.

12 THE PROCESS OF WRITING STAGE FOUR: write the draft. Make sure you give your thesis or an indication of your thesis early. You can give the whole argument up front, pose a question you’ll explore, whose answer will be your thesis, or give us a general version of your thesis that you’ll refine by the end of your essay.

13 RHETORICAL ANALYSIS QUESTION How does the author use rhetorical strategies to convey his/her message?

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