Unit 1-Assignment 4: Mind Essay
Using one reading of your choice from the “Discoveries and the Mind,” section of our textbook, A World of Ideas 9th edition, you are to write a rhetorical analysis. This means you may use any one reading from that chapter of our textbook with the exception of the introductory reading (i.e. you can pick any one of the following: “Allegory of the Cave,” “The Personal and Collective Unconscious,” or “The Four Idols.”
This essay should be a minimum of five full pages, in MLA format, and is due on Saturday, March 31st.
What is Rhetorical Analysis?
Rhetorical analysis is the examination of an argument—how is it composed, how effective, and how persuasive is it? Moreover, it is the investigation of how a text persuades its audience by identifying the writer’s argumentative strategies (i.e. pathos, logos, audience, etc.). These analyses come in many forms: political commentary, critical essays, opinion editorials, and case studies. What unites these various forms of writing is the recognition that arguments—regardless of their genre—work on audiences in complex ways.
This project asks you to show your readers what argument is being made, how it is being made, and whether or not it is effective in its persuasion. Paying close attention to the author’s purpose, evidence, persuasive appeals, and other rhetorical strategies, you are to write a rhetorical analysis of a text in order to make a claim about how the text functions as a persuasive argument and the degree to which that argument succeeds or fails.
To make a claim about the effectiveness of an argument, you must use the rhetorical analysis skills learned in class: identifying an author’s claims, evaluating supporting evidence, analyzing the needs and expectations of an audience, and identifying common rhetorical gestures found in the type of text under scrutiny. Keep in mind that you are not arguing with or against the text. Your job is to analyze how the argument’s rhetorical functioning contributes to its effectiveness, not to agree or disagree with the argument.
Why do we write them?
Upon first glance, audiences are often unable to grasp fully the complexities of arguments. Through rhetorical analysis we are better able to understand and identify how an argument unfolds and whether or not it is effective. Ultimately, this helps us in turn to be more critical of what texts and media we consume, as well as aiding us to construct our own arguments more effectively.
You will select an argument to analyze—these could be scholarly articles, news opinions in the paper, or even a clip from a movie where an argument for something is being made. Once you have chosen your text to analyze, conduct research to learn more about why this particular text was written—who is the author of the article, what is the publication or media by which it is presented, what is the issue being discussed, and when the article was written.
This informal research should provide enough context to begin thinking more critically about the article. Then, read and summarize the main point of each paragraph in the margins, and identify the thesis of the text.
Drafting Your Rhetorical Analysis
A rhetorical analysis:
- identifies the text under scrutiny and summarizes its main ideas
- presents key points about the text’s rhetorical strategies for persuading its audience
- elaborates on these points, emphasizing various points and de-emphasizing others depending on your larger claim
- arrives at some new knowledge about the effectiveness of the argument based on the analysis
You must, then, have strong background knowledge of the article as well as be relatively fluent with regard to the article’s key points. Note that evidence for your claims will come directly from the article itself, so be sure that your draft is rich with direct quotations and references to the text.
- student presents an effective summary of the secondary text;
- student makes a claim which argues for or against the secondary text’s effectiveness (not whether you agree or disagree);
- student includes sufficient supporting evidence drawn from the secondary source;
- student applies rhetorical analysis terms and strategies learned in class (Note: while this assignment asks you to use the specialized rhetorical terms discussed in class, this is not merely a demonstration of your knowledge of those terms. In other words, you must apply these terms to come to a new understanding of the text under scrutiny.);
- clear organization and structure;
- student uses appropriate documentation of the secondary source and follows conventions of Standard Edited English.
- at least 5 pages, double spaced, one inch margins
- 12 point Times font
- MLA format (no title page, 4 line heading upper left of first page, last name/page # in upper right of each page, in-text citations, etc.)