Writing 1020F: Introduction to University Essay Writing
A Rhetorical Analysis (10%)
“A rhetorical analysis requires you to step back from a text and consider it from multiple perspectives. Writing a rhetorical analysis can give you a heightened awareness of a text and a better appreciation of what the author accomplished” (Faigley 84).
An important preliminary note: yes, these instructions are long, but that’s because I tell you everything you need to know in order to be successful. Thus, read the instructions carefully. Study them. Learn from them. Be smart and take your time. Also, and this is very important, as this may be a type of assignment you’ve never done before, whatever you do, do not panic. It’s normal to feel uncertain. It’s normal to feel a little anxious. It’s normal to not know exactly what to do at the start.
The answer to all these problems is not to rush to me to fix them for you. The answer is to read the instructions, not once, but several times. The answer is to think, to reflect, to take a few days to allow the ideas to soak into your brain. The answer is to return to the course readings and read them. Above all, the answer is to continue to remind yourself that you can do this assignment. The university has allowed you to join: they must believe that you have the skills and abilities to succeed. Ultimately, remember, too, that it is my job to work with you to answer your questions and to help you forward. Thus, do not hesitate to be in communication with me, and we can discuss your approach to the assignment. Know, however, that my first question will be to ask you what you have done to help yourself to understand the assignment. You got this!
Purpose and Audience
In this assignment, please write an essay, a rhetorical analysis of Chief Superintendent Chris Leather’s statement from January 8th, 2021, regarding the delay of an emergency alert (see the attached pdf file). Essentially, a rhetorical analysis is an examination of the rhetorical situation of a given piece of writing: an examination of the relationship between a text’s writer, audience, purpose, contexts, argument, and writing style. Be sure to complete the readings for weeks one and two; especially review the discussion of “genre” and “voice” in chapter one of Academic Writing, our course text.
The instructions below provide further details on the type of analysis required and how to complete it. Your audience is your professor. Write to convince him that you can respond intelligently and in an analytical manner to a text and write a formal paper in an academic style. Take some time to think about me as your audience. Analyze the issue. What does Rowat want? What is he likely looking for? How should I write for him to get what I want?
Before developing your draft, complete the readings for weeks one and two. Be sure to consider the issues of the writing situation, which are relevant to the analysis you will be performing in this assignment.
Work carefully at least twice through Leather’s text, taking notes and slowly developing your ideas. Your aim is to analyze the text in order to understand more clearly how it functions as a piece of writing.
In order to develop your work, research the situation of the text. Search online for meaningful sources that help to explain who Leather is, and what the context is for his writing, and also what his audience may have been thinking. What sorts of considerations were likely important to the writer as he crafted this work? What was happening in the context that likely encouraged the writer to make particular rhetorical choices and not others? As a further aid, I have identified several online sources—listed in the “bibliography” to the Leather communication—that I would like you to read and consider in order to develop your analysis.
What should your response discuss?
Keep in mind that your essay should not be a summary, nor should it be a critical commentary on Leather’s ideas. The purpose of your essay is not simply to summarize or to discuss the issue of police policy but to provide an analysis of the rhetorical situation. What does a rhetorical analysis entail? A rhetorical analysis is a consideration of the relationship between a context (audience, purpose, and
“reality”) and the style of a piece of writing (diction, sentence structure, content, figurative language, organization, tone, purpose and so forth).
Similarly, do not let your essay become an evaluation of the content. The assignment is not be an evaluation, but an analysis of the rhetoric. Your work, here, does not involve explaining what the writer should have done, or explaining what you think the quality of the text is, in a general way. This assignment is asking you to identify particular rhetorical features of the text and to explain why the writer chose to include those features, and to explain that logic by referring to the elements of the rhetorical situation. You’re trying to prove that you understand how rhetoric works, how writing and communication works. You’re trying to show that you can explain how this particular writer makes rhetorical choices based on the situation he is in.
As an aspect of your analysis, focus on the text’s argument: does the text have an argument, or does it have another purpose other than argumentation? if the text is argumentative, what is the thesis? how does the writer construct the argument? If the writing is not argumentative, is it expository? If so, what is the writer’s purpose in giving information?
Make sure that your essay discusses rhetoric, that is, issues of audience, purpose, and context, but also aspects of language: diction (word choice), style, content, phrasing, figurative language, and so forth. In addition, because your essay will be only three pages or so, be very selective in your approach; choose representative features of the text in order to make your claims. Be sure to quote the statement directly in order to illustrate your ideas.
Once you have finished your final draft, be sure to use the spelling and grammar checking software that is a part of your word processor. Finally, print a copy of your work, and edit it one last time in hardcopy to detect errors that may not have appeared onscreen.
A Special Warning: in the course of teaching about rhetoric, I typically touch on the issue of persuasive appeals. They are a small but important part of rhetoric. Note, that there are three general categories of appeal: logos, pathos, and ethos. These roughly correspond to arguments based on logic, feeling, and authorial character. Sometimes students working on the rhetorical analysis make a terrible mistake. Once they see those three points, they get sort of excited. That magic number does something to their brains. “Aha!,” they think, “an answer to my problem!” Sure enough, they write to me. “Would it be good for me to write one paragraph on logos, one on pathos, and one on ethos?”. Well, to be sure, it’s a terrible idea. And let me explain why. This assignment is asking students to write about how the rhetorical situation relates to the style of the writing. The three persuasive claims are a small part of rhetorical situation; however, if the writing under scrutiny is not even argumentative, then logos, pathos, and ethos are probably not relevant at all. (As I teach, “ethos” is a part of every piece of writing, so you might choose not to ignore it!). Students need to be writing about author, reality, and audience! Basically, students who just write about ethos, pathos, logos just fail, because they were anxious, they didn’t read and understand the instructions, and they wildly grabbed at anything that resembled what they already know. It’s been so hammered relentlessly into my students’ heads that they need “three points” that they choose the persuasive appeals to discuss, just because there are three of them! So, my advice to you is, if you haven’t already, please read “Moving Beyond the 5 Paragraph Paper,” included in Unit Two.
Length and Format
The essay is to be roughly 750-1000 words, double spaced. Please use MLA (Modern Language Association) documentation, and be sure to include a bibliography of sources on a separate page. For information on how to format the paper and bibliography, consult the instructions and examples at Purdue University’s online writing lab. Do not include a coversheet. Pay particular attention to the format of the bibliography: use hanging indentation and double space the entire list (do not use single or triple spacing). (For help with using Word to create hanging indentation, be sure to consult my instructions: “Guide for Using Word,” from Unit Two.) The formatting of the bibliography is a small matter, but I would like to see you get it correct. Be sure that your paper does not plagiarize from any source. Papers that plagiarize will be dealt with by the Dean and offending students may be given a “0” on the assignment.
This rhetorical analysis is worth 10% of the final grade.
Please submit your work to the Assignments tab in OWL by Monday, May 17th, by 10pm. As indicated on the course outline, no late assignments will be accepted. Please avoid merely linking to an assignment in the “cloud”; add an actual digital copy. If you use Apple products, please be careful not to send documents with the .pages extension, as I cannot open them.
Criteria for evaluation
Please remember that you may not consult with your colleagues; the work you produce must be your own. Please be sure to consult the grading rubric attached to our course outline for more information on the marking of writing assignments.