In general terms, an analysis essay breaks down a text (a letter, speech, ad, video, painting, billboard, etc.) into its constituent parts (language choice, metaphors, images, colors, tone of voice, use of examples/evidence, shapes, etc.), analyzes these parts, and uses them to better understand the text’s reflection of, and effect on, its audiences. A rhetorical analysisâ€”the type being assigned to youâ€”does the same sort of work, taking into consideration the specific rhetorical situation (the call to write) the text responds to and the rhetorical concepts that you learned about in chapter 2 of The Call to Write. An effective rhetorical analysis brings to light some feature or features of a text, calling attention to details that other readers might not notice or know how to interpret. An analysis project asks you to think deeply and carefully, moving beyond what is self-evident about a text in order to probe, ask questions, and look for explanations that will help you understand it in a more robust way than you would have previously. Usually, analysis projects encourage you to do this deep thinking with the help of some particular perspective. For this assignment, you will use a rhetorical perspective to guide your analysis of a text of your choosing. The rhetorical concepts covered in this lesson are tools that you can use to examine your text closely. Directions A rhetorical analysis examines and explains how an author (or artist) responds to a specific call to write. That is, rhetorical analyses use specific evidence from a written, verbal, or visual text (such as a letter, speech, advertisement, video, painting, billboard, etc.) to establish a generalization (thesis) about the text’s rhetoric (in short, how it persuades, educates, or moves its audience by employing rhetorical appeals, using good reasons, responding to the situation at hand, etc.). As you plan and draft your analysis, consider your classmates as your audience: a group of people who are also learning how to conduct rhetorical analysis. Your goal will be to help them better understand and appreciate the text you have chosen by demonstrating how it responds to a particular call to write. Guidelines for Choosing Your Text for Analysis The first step in this assignment is to choose a text for analysis. You will want to find a written, visual, or oral text (a piece of writing or other composed object, like those listed above) you find interestingâ€”one that strikes you as being clever, engaging, surprising, creative, or edgy. You may choose a contemporary or historical text, one that is well-known or relatively obscure. The text should have a purpose that you can identify fairly easily: to persuade, educate, entertain, etc. Here are some additional considerations: Length matters. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by selecting a long or overly complex text for analysis. Keep in mind that your analysis will involve explaining the context from which the text is created and reflecting upon the writer’s specific compositional choices. Identifying these choices and explaining their importance in your essay requires attention to detail and careful contemplation, not hasty observations. A single-panel advertisement or a short opinion essay in your local newspaper is the sort of text that often works well for this assignment. Choose an accessible and shareable text. You will need to send me a copy of the text for approval and include a copy of it with your rough and final drafts. So you will need to choose a text that can be sent as an attachment or viewed online. Consider context. The more accurately you can identify the context from which the text emerges (the contemporary or historical moment, the issue or need the text responds to, the place of the text’s publication or distribution, the addressed audience), the more information you will have that can inform your analysis. Most of your analysis essay should focus on a
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