English Question

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ENGL 1020: Composition/Analysis

University of Memphis

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Assignment


The purpose of your rhetorical analysis is to analyze another writer’s argument. Of course, your essay should address (very minimally) what the writer has written, but the emphasis of your rhetorical analysis essay should be a close examination of how the writer has presented an argument. Your purpose is not to argue with (or state your agreement with) the writer’s position. Your primary purpose is to analyze the strategies and features another writer has used to be persuasive. Do not be diverted from your primary task: to demonstrate that you have uncovered interesting, important things about the way the author’s argument has been presented.

Big Picture:

Writing the Rhetorical Analysis helps students understand how effective arguments are crafted and to reflect on audience considerations; prepares students to read, assimilate, and process the research materials they will use to take a position and craft an argument; cull the readings for Memphis-related topics they may be interested in researching further for their researched argument assignment; and begin to differentiate between broad topics and specific issues.


First, you need to choose an article to analyze from the assigned reading in Writing Memphis:

• “Weed!” by Toby Sells and Micaela Watts, pp 275-281

You do not need to agree with the argument to analyze it, but you should be careful to choose an argument that you can approach objectively, as you will not be critiquing the argument; you will be analyzing it. Your analysis should be no less than three full pages long (not including the works cited).

What Should Be Analyzed?

Listed below are the sorts of things your rhetorical analysis should consider. This list is neither a checklist nor an outline, and not every question will apply to every article.

• Purpose (What is the writer trying to accomplish with the essay?)

• Audience (To whom does the writer try to appeal? How does the writer try to

connect with that audience?)

• Organization (How has the writer structured and presented the argument?)

• Nods to the Opposition (How does the writer anticipate and address arguments

that might be made against his/her position?)

• Definition (How does the writer define key terms used in the argument?)

• Examples (What sort of examples/analogies does the writer use as evidence?)

• Appeals to Authority (How does the writer use other sources, experts, statistics, etc.?)

• Ethos (How does the writer present him/herself to the reader?)

• Logos (How does the writer appeal to the reader’s sense of logical reasoning?)

• Pathos (How does the writer appeal to the reader’s emotions, beliefs, and values?)

• Kairos (How has the author made use of an opportune moment or place?)

• Tone (What is the writer’s attitude towards the subject?)

• Diction and Imagery (What are the effects of the writer’s word choices?)

Submission: All documents are submitted as editable Word documents; use correct MLA citation and format. For specifics about format please see the course syllabus and the example MLA papers at the Purdue OWL website.


• 3 to 4 full pages (not including works cited page)

• MLA citation and format

• Submitted digitally to the designated Assignment folder in Canvas

• Avoid summary (beyond a brief introductory summary of your source)

Draft due: nlt noon July 10

Revised Final Draft Due: nlt noon July 13

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