Rhetorical Analysis and Criticism Essay

For this assignment you will be asked to compose a rhetorical analysis and criticism of Speth’s The Bridge at the Edge of the World. As we’ve discussed in class, one of the key ways that rhetorical analysis differs from literary analysis is that rhetoric more explicitly emphasizes a text’s design, especially how design decisions that are made (available means of persuasion discovered) by the author operate in a rhetorical situation that seeks movement (persuasion) of readers or audience members in a particular case. In this case, Speth is writing to a 21st Century American audience about the need to transition away from a growth-based market economy and toward a sustainability-based market economy. • What means of persuasion does he draw from to make his case? • In what ways is the rhetorical design of his message effective and in what ways is it ineffective? The goal of your rhetorical analysis is to reveal how this text was designed to persuade, and whether that persuasion succeeds or fails. When we talk about how something functions rhetorically we are talking about “an effort to understand how people within specific social situations attempt to influence others through language” (Selzer, “Rhetorical Analysis,” p. 281). A rhetorical analysis begins by asking: • What were the available means of persuading readers on this topic, and what choices did the designer make among those means? • What is the effect of this design on readers, viewers, or listeners? In the rhetorical analysis and criticism essay you’ll produce, you should focus your critique on key analytical topics important to rhetorical studies (ethos, pathos, logos, identification, discourse analysis, rhetorical situation, metaphor/framing, narrative/framing, among others), developing an academic thesis about the message of the text, how the text functions rhetorically, and whether the writer’s design was a success. As you engage in an analysis and critique of a non-fiction essay of your choice from the ten we will read, you’ll also be asked to draw on other course readings and find at least one reputable source not covered in class to support your essay. Your concern in this assignment is both with the text itself, in terms of what it does and how it does it, as well as the context(s) in which the text functions, is responsive to, and that the text in turn creates. That is, what do we see in the text itself and what is not in the text (such as discourse that counters the ideas) that is meaningful to understanding this text for better or worse—how are the words and phrases the author uses touching on factors in our social and cultural lives in this moment? Genre Expectations 1. The introduction section of a rhetorical analysis typically handles both the summary of the work and the thesis. Consider the introduction a multi-paragraph section of this paper rather than one big paragraph. In this section you should offer a description of the book, some background on its author/subject, the date of publication, and most especially and overview of the context and rhetorical situation that gives the essay purpose. It should be clear from this section of the essay what rhetorical situation the author is situated in while undertaking the essay. This introduction should also include an expressed argument you want to make about how the text functions rhetorically (your thesis) and its effect on readers. 2. The body of your rhetorical analysis is driven by the rhetorical elements you are most interested in highlighting. This may be rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, logos) or this may be an observation of rhetorical devices used in the work (metaphor, narrative, discourse, identification, etc.) You may use a source of your own to introduce a new rhetorical element as well. You should draw directly on the concepts we’ve discussed in class. Your analysis should make an argument about the text and present supporting evidence by referencing or quoting from the text. You are welcome to cite other sources that address your text/artifact, but your analysis should be your own. 3. Finish your essay by persuading readers to agree with your take on the effectiveness of the text. What does this text do for readers? What does this text accomplish? Where does this text fail? How is the language of this text intertwined with the language of our everyday cultural lives? Does this text reproduce conditions of oppression, work to change those conditions, or do some other work? What audiences will be moved and unmoved by the rhetoric as designed? Additional Requirements • Cite at least one other source that relates to text you’re analyzing (as support, as contrast, or as theoretical background). This could be a source that introduces a new rhetorical appeal, a source that discuss sustainability, or a source that discuss environmental, writing, communication, and rhetoric. Some resources to check out in your search are: The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE), The International Environmental Communication Association (IECA), and the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA). • Create a Works Cited page in MLA format that contains entries for the text you analyze and all other sources used in the paper. • Have fun with this! (Required fun, at least).

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