rhetorical analysis evaluation

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Argumentation and persuasion permeate our lives: the news media, television, film, novels, magazines, the Internet, the business world, advertising, our friends, our families, our teachers. In one form or another, all of these present arguments to persuade us to accept some viewpoint and/or to act in some way. The ways in which they construct their arguments—the rhetoric they choose—depends on what they are attempting to accomplish.

For this assignment, you will analyze the components of an author’s rhetoric. The word rhetoric has several meanings, but the one that is pertinent to our endeavor is from the Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus: “art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing; language designed to persuade or impress.”[1] By analyzing rhetoric, we can better understand not only how arguments are meant to persuade us (and, if necessary, how we can agree with or resist those arguments), but also how we might make use of the same rhetorical strategies in our own writing.

Whenever you read an opinion piece in a magazine or hear rhetoric on television, you get a sense of whether you believe what the author is arguing. That sense, though, is usually more on an unconscious level. However, to write a successful rhetorical analysis, you have to make very conscious judgments and be able to support them by analyzing specific aspects of the author’s rhetoric. The first thing you need, then, is some criteria with which to begin your analysis. Some of those criteria are addressed in Chapter 10.

[1] “Rhetoric.” The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus. 2nd ed. London: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.


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