Write a short essay (3-4 pages) analyzing the
rhetorical effectiveness of any of the texts (I chose “the dangers of a single story”) found in the Assigned
In a rhetorical analysis, whether you “liked” the text or not isn’t the
focus. While you might start with parts of the text that are motivational or
off-putting as a basis for analysis, your job is to entertain seriously all the
questions above and how they influence the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of
the speech. A successful rhetorical analysis will identify the author,
audience, purpose, and persuasive techniques (rhetorical appeals) used by the
Consider some of the famous speeches and writings we celebrate today.
How are they able to move an audience to action or emotion? What techniques do
the writers use to create these “timeless” masterpieces of rhetoric?
In this assignment, you will consider an argument, take it apart and see
how it works, and then develop some theories about how or why it is successful
or not. After you have completed this analytical reading, thinking, and
note-taking, you will use these notes to create an essay that makes a central
claim about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the source text based on
the rhetorical strategies employed by the author. Your analysis essay should
bring you closer to understanding at least one of the following parts of the
This results in questions like:
the primary audience for this text, specifically?
this text anticipate the counterarguments of its opponents (if it does)?
Does the text
appeal to your emotions, or your sense of logic, or your sense of respect for
specific writing techniques does the author use? How do the images, people,
and/or ideas support this style?
The successful rhetorical analysis should:
on one of the strategies used by the writer: e.g., organization, content,
or persuasive technique.
rather than summarize the essay. You are required to give a 2-4 sentence
summary of the piece in your introduction, but the remaining essay should
be analysis (not summary).
a well-supported thesis and paragraphs that enable readers to follow your
few, if any, errors in correctness. This paper must be edited thoroughly
before final submission.
Questions that Lead
to Rhetorical Analysis:
What kinds of
evidence—facts, statistics, anecdotes—does the author use? How does the
selection of supporting evidence help fulfill the purpose of the text?
How does the writer
use supporting evidence to appeal to readers? Are these appeals logical
and rational? Emotional? A combination of the two?
What does selection
of details tell you about the writer? What do these details tell you about
the writer’s assumptions about the knowledge and experience of the
How does the
organization of the text help fulfill its purpose? For example, if the
author puts the thesis in the concluding paragraph, how does that strategy
help persuade readers?
What cueing devices
does the author use to emphasize important points and to guide the reader
through the essay? Do visual cues—headings, spacing, listing—help organize
the text for the reader, or emphasize (or de-emphasize) certain points?
Is the information
clustered/segmented in a way meaningful to readers and compatible with
purpose? Does the clustering of information follow established patterns
(e.g., classification, description, comparison, problem/solution, others)?