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Rhetorical Analysis

Assignment: Select an argumentative essay from the op-ed or editorial page of a reputable news source (e.g. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Politico, the Hill, the Economist, etc.). Read the argument carefully and critically, making sure to identify the claims it makes and the evidence used to back up

those claims. Then, write an essay in which you analyze the argument rhetorically, using the principles

discussed in Chapter 6 of our textbook. You might focus your essay on determining whether or not you

feel the argument is likely to be successful with its intended audience, or you might focus on some other

aspect of the text. For instance, you might analyze the relative strengths and/or weaknesses of the writer’s

use of ethos, pathos, logos; or you might examine contradictions or fallacies in the argument. Whatever

your focus, your essay should:

• Provide adequate background information regarding the argument under analysis, including a brief explanation of the debate it is engaged in, a summary of the position it takes, and basic

publication info, i.e. the author’s name, the date of publication, and the place of publication.

• Establish the focus of your analysis in a clear thesis statement.

• Support the thesis with detailed discussions of evidence drawn from the text of the argument as well as from any secondary sources you choose to include.

• Conclude by summarizing your analysis, discussing its significance, and offering a powerful emotional appeal.

Learning Objectives: • To provide practice reading and thinking critically about the arguments of others.

• To enhance your understanding of how writers deploy rhetorical appeals

• To practice engaging in an on-going conversation conducted in and through written texts.

• To provide practice with the strategies of academic writing, including close reading and critical analysis, crafting thesis statements, supplying support, and incorporating sources.

Audience: MTSU Academic Community. Do not assume the audience has read the essays you are discussing. Provide enough details about the author and the essay for the reader to understand both their

positions and your own.

Tips: • Review Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of your textbook for help identifying and distinguishing between the

major rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, logos).

• Review the “ABC Analysis” handout and Fallacies of Argument chapter in your textbook for help assessing the reasoning at work in your target argument.

• Try using an enumerative thesis to lay out your primary claim and major subclaims. o E.g. “Author X’s argument succeeds because of its subtle and nuanced reasoning, its

ability to create common ground with its intended audience, and its clever use of humor.

o E.g. “Author X argument is deeply flawed. It fails to provide adequate evidence, engages in fallacies, and frequently deploys manipulative emotional appeals.

• For help organizing your essay, refer to the sample rhetorical analyses included in your textbook on pages 118-124.

Requirements: 3-5 typed pages. Double Spaced. Include the standard assignment block in the upper left hand corner (i.e. Your Name / Class Name / Instructor Name / Type of Assignment / Date). Use MLA

style and formatting throughout. Use the appropriate tone for an academic essay, as well as correct

grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This essay does not require outside sources. However, if you choose

to include sources, you must cite them both in the text of your essay and in a separate works cited page.

Due Dates: See Schedule.

Essay Evaluation Sheet

Student ___ Final Grade

This evaluation sheet serves as an indication of where your essay is strong and weak. Use this information as a guide

when you write, revise, and edit your papers in the future. Remember: you can come in and talk to me about your

papers at any time during the process of writing them or 24 hours after they are returned to you. Each category uses the

Very Good to Weak scale; 100 total points are possible. Your grade is based on the points you receive out of those possible 100 points and your final point score is calculated by applying the percentage of points out of 100 to the total

number of points possible for the specific assignment.


CONTENT _____ Very good *Interesting topic/title 5…4…3…2…1

30 points _____ Good * Clear significance 5…4…3…2…1

_____ Average * Meets the assignment 5…4…3…2…1

/30 _____ Needs improvement * Attention to Audience 5…4…3…2…1

_____ Weak * Strong support 5…4…3…2…1

*Vivid detail 5…4…3…2…1

ORGANIZATION _____ Very good

* Introduction 5…4…3…2…1

* Conclusion 5…4…3…2…1

30 points _____ Good * Development/control of ideas 5…4…3…2…1

/30 _____ Average * Logical sequencing of ideas 5…4…3…2…1

_____ Needs improvement * Transitions 5…4…3…2…1

_____ Weak * Unified paragraphs 5…4…3…2…1

Style _____ Very good * Accurate, precise word choice 5…4…3…2…1

20 points _____ Good * No wordiness 5…4…3…2…1

_____ Average * Tone/Voice 5…4…3…2…1

/20 _____ Needs improvement * Sentence variety 5…4…3…2…1

_____ Weak

GRAMMAR _____ Very good

* Misplaced or missing possessive apostrophes


15 points _____ Good

*Comma Use


_____ Average

* Sentence fragment


/15 _____ Needs improvement

*Agreement (s/v, p/a, tense)


_____ Weak * Run-on sentences 3…2…1…0

MECHANICS _____ Very good * Spelling/typos 2…1…0

5 points _____ Good * MLA style/Formatting 3…2…1…0

_____ Average

/5 _____ Needs improvement

_____ Weak



  • Learning Objectives:
  • Tips:
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