Rhetorical Analysis


“Maybe [They’re] Crazy:”

Madness, Manifestos and Rhetorical Analysis


This unit is comprised of a collection of texts designed to make social interventions. The authors of these texts were accused of being “mad” (Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Malcolm X) during their lifetimes. The goal of this unit is to conduct close rhetorical analysis to interpret how their rhetorical strategies relate to the purposes of their texts. For Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Malcolm X’s texts, you will additionally evaluate the effectiveness of their rhetorical strategies.


  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)
  • Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” (1964)


For ONE of the above texts, select 1-2 rhetorical strategies that the author employs. Create an argument that interprets how that strategy or strategies serve the author’s purpose. If you select Perkins Gilman’s short story or Malcolm X’s speech, please additionally evaluate the effectiveness of the rhetorical strategy or strategies you identify.


  • Final argumentative essay must offer an original thesis in response to the prompt question, and support that thesis with subclaims, evidence from and analysis of unit texts.
  • Essays must incorporate close rhetorical analysis of the selected text.
  • Tip: Do not just summarize your text. Instead, develop an argument structure that accounts for 1) how your author uses the rhetorical strategy or strategies you identified; 2) how that strategy or strategies relate to the overall purpose of the text; and 3) the effectiveness of that strategy or strategy, OR the relevance of the text, depending on your selection (see prompt above).
  • Final argumentative essay draft must be 4-6 pages long (or 1500-2000 words), double spaced, 1” margins, 12 point Times New Roman or 11 point Arial. Essays that do not meet minimum length requirements will not receive a passing grade.
  • Use in-text citations and include a works cited page according to MLA standards.
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