using mla format ). offer insights W r i t i n g

using mla format ). offer insights W r i t i n g

While in your last essay, you were analyzing your own experience(s), in this essay you will be analyzing another text. You will select a non-fiction text of your choosing and analyze it according to the rhetorical principles that we discuss in class. Rhetoric is about how a writer attempts to communicate a message to an audience—you will weigh in on how effectively you think the writer whom you choose communicates a message via his/her text. I am using “text” here in the broad sense to include images, websites, speeches, commercials, newspaper articles and more—the key is that you are interested in the text, want to examine it in detail, and figure out how it works. If you choose to analyze a visual text, you should insert images / screen captures of your text throughout the essay (I can show you how to do this). We will spend time in class brainstorming possibilities and discussing which kind of texts might work best (and also not so well) for this assignment.


Strong papers will:

  • Employ specific rhetorical terms (purpose, audience, genre, stance, kairos, etc.) appropriately.
  • Make an overall evaluation of the text’s effectiveness (for a particular audience)
  • Cite specific evidence from the chosen text to support all claims (using MLA format).
  • Offer insights that move beyond commonsense / obvious interpretations.

Grading Rubric:

We will be using the FYW program assessment criteria as outlined in your syllabus. We’ll talk about these criteria throughout the course.


  • Choose a text that interests you and is a manageable scope for this essay (i.e., a 10-minute long video would be too much to analyze in this case). If you are uncertain whether your text will work well, double check with me before you begin writing.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rhetorical terminology we’ve discussed in class and decide which rhetorical terms best apply to your text.
  • Analyze—decide which features of the text are most useful for you to focus on—and then make an argument for what they mean.
  • Draft—this is likely a new genre of writing for you, so be sure to undertake several revisions of your essay.
  • Polish—edit and proofread your work. Consider reading it out loud.

Some Brainstorming Questions:

  • What was the writer’s goal or purpose in creating the text?
  • What are some of unstated assumptions on which this argument rests?
  • What was the historical context or kairotic moment in which this text was created and distributed? How do you think the writer adapted his or her message to this kairotic moment?
  • How does the writer employ particular stylistic techniques (repetition, figurative language, etc.) in order to persuade his or her audience?

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