Rhetorical Analysis of Obama’s Selma Speech

Essay 2 Prompt

Rhetorical Analysis and Critique

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For your second formal paper, write an essay in which you analyze and critique one of the texts we have read this semester. You may choose one text from among: Obama’s Selma Speech,“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” or Garza’s “Why Black Lives Matter” speech.

In a rhetorical analysis, your job is to discuss howthe text says what it says. Think about the choices the author made and discuss their significance. There are a variety of things you can discuss in an analysis, such as the tone, diction, audience, and/or purpose. These are only examples; you are not required to write about these things specifically and there are many other things on which you might choose to focus. You might also think about how the writer appeals to the audience. Emotionally? Logically?

In this essay, you will also need toform an opinion about the text and critique it. Does it work overall? Is it enjoyable to read? Is it well written? These questions are meant to help you get started; you are not required to discuss them all in your essay.

Be sure to include specific examples from the text. You should include quotations from the text to help support your argument. Since there are no real page numbers, in-text citations are not required, but you do need to indicate when you are quoting by properly introducing quotes and including quotation marks.



  • Must be 5 ½ pages in its final draft
  • Must include textual examples as evidence
  • Must follow MLA style and formatting guidelines
  • Must be double spaced and in Times New Roman, 12 pt. font
  • May not use first person pronouns and should avoid second pronouns

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