English Composition I
Rhetorical Analysis Essays
Purpose and The purpose of the Rhetorical Analysis essay (RA) is to improve your ability to
Objectives recognize and evaluate the effectiveness of rhetorical appeals as they’re used for a
The RA requires that you become intimately familiar with your source text so that
you can compare its attempts at persuasion to what we’ve discussed about the
primary rhetorical appeals:
For this assignment, I’ve provided sample essays for you to choose from; you will
find them in the Supplemental Readings module on Canvas. I recommend choosing
an essay that’s about a topic you only mildly care about. If you don’t care about it at
all, you might lose interest; conversely, if you’re too passionate about the topic, it will
be easy to slip into defending or opposing the argument presented. Remember that
your purpose is to analyze rhetoric, not to argue. Avoid argumentation.
Requirements Each of your Rhetorical Analyses has the following minimum requirements:
o between 750 and 2,000 words; this is about 3–7 pages in MLA format (see
below); I won’t read past word #2,000, so use your space wisely
o the word count is not a target; don’t feel that your only goal is to reach it;
every essay has a purpose, and you should be able to accomplish that purpose
in the provided space; if you’re at 750 words, but your essay is incomplete,
o I count length in ideas instead of words or pages; so 2 pages of text in 16-
point font won’t make the cut, neither will 1,500 words of rambling
• Purpose and Audience
o even a rhetorical analysis has a purpose; maybe yours is to uncover faulty
reasoning or expose manipulation; maybe you want to explain why you
believe an author is so convincing and how their rhetorical strategies could
be taken into someone else’s writing; regardless, pay attention to your
purpose—write a thesis statement to help guide yourself (of course, changing
it if you need to)
o consider how your analysis is suited for a particular audience; every audience
is different, so remember their needs when writing
• Language and Tone
o use clear, grammatically correct English in your writing; but also bear in
mind your audience when writing; some audience’s will respond well to
more academic language, while others will reject it
o approach your topic with care; make sure that you’re neither preaching down
from a hilltop nor whining unnecessarily; take the middle road: be sensible
o you can use whichever academic style you prefer; if you’re going into the
sciences, you’ll be required to write in APA style in your other classes; if
you’re going into the humanities, you’ll need to be familiar with MLA; I
recommend you use the style that will be required of you throughout your
o we won’t discuss academic style until later in the semester, but for now our
textbook has sections on both MLA and APA; there are other resources
available as well: the OWL at Purdue online, our writing center, and of
course me; I will be lenient with your style; however, use this opportunity to
practice these skills
o I don’t care what software or app you use to write your essays, but I require
that you submit this in Word or pdf format; every app and online service has
a way of exporting a file in these formats; do that before you submit; if you
don’t, I’ll assign your work a 0 and ask you to resubmit it (late penalties will
also be accrued)
o unless otherwise noted, all essays should be submitted to Canvas; I do not
accept paper or email submissions, unless otherwise noted
I don’t require it currently, but I highly recommend that you visit the Writing Center
while analyzing a text and writing this essay. Getting someone else’s perspective into
your writing will only improve it.
tl;dr The RA should be 750–2,000 words long, formatted either in MLA or APA style, and
saved as either or Word or pdf file. I recommend at some point you visit the Writing
Center while writing these essays.
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