Writing Project One: Rhetorical Analysis

Writing Project One: Rhetorical Analysis


What Is Rhetorical Analysis and Why Do It?

Rhetorical analysis involves examining “closely how [an argument] is composed and what makes it an effective or ineffective piece of persuasion” (Ramage, Bean and Johnson 156). Rhetorical analysis asks you to investigate how a text persuades its audience by identifying a writer’s argumentative strategies in light of contextual constraints and exigencies. These analyses come in many forms: political commentary, critical essays, opinion editorials, and case studies. What unites these various forms of writing is the recognition that arguments—regardless of their genre—work on audiences in complex ways and that, upon first glance, audiences are often unable to grasp fully the complexities of those arguments. Through concentrated, systematic analysis, however, we can watch an argument unfold in slow-motion and begin to understand the many ways a text works on various audiences.

Attending to arguments from a rhetorical perspective will heighten your sensitivity to writers’ persuasive strategies and in turn help you learn to construct your own arguments more effectively. Furthermore, rhetorical analysis will help you become a more critical (and thereby responsible) consumer of cultural texts.


Audience and Purpose

This writing project asks you to show readers what is happening behind the scenes of an argument so that we can understand how it persuades (or does not persuade) its audience. Paying close attention to the purpose, evidence, persuasive appeals, and other rhetorical strategies, you are to write a rhetorical analysis of an advertisement in order to make a claim about how the text functions as a persuasive argument and the degree to which that argument succeeds or fails.

To make a claim about the effectiveness of an argument, you must use the rhetorical analysis skills learned in class: identifying persuasive appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos), identifying an author’s claims, evaluating supporting evidence, analyzing the needs and expectations of an audience, and identifying common rhetorical gestures found in the type of text under scrutiny. Your job is to analyze how the argument’s rhetorical functioning contributes to its effectiveness.


Getting Started

First, you must select an advertisement of your choice. Once you have chosen an advertisement, your next step is to conduct some informal research to learn more about the author/company behind the advertisement and the time period in which the ad was published. This informal research should provide enough context to begin thinking more critically about the ad.


Finding Out What to Say

In class we’ll explore questions and heuristics for generating ideas for your analysis. These resources will provide a good starting point for your critical investigation.


Drafting Your Rhetorical Analysis

A rhetorical analysis:

  • identifies the text under inspection and summarizes its main ideas
  • presents key points about the text’s rhetorical strategies for persuading its audience
  • elaborates on these points, emphasizing various points and de-emphasizing others depending on your larger claim
  • arrives at some new knowledge about the effectiveness of the argument based on the analysis

You must, then, have strong background knowledge of the article as well as be relatively fluent with regard to the article’s key points. Note that evidence for your claims will come directly from the article itself, so be sure that your draft is rich with direct quotations and references to the text.


Grading Criteria:

  • student presents an effective summary of the ad
  • student makes a claim which argues for or against the ad’s effectiveness
  • student includes sufficient supporting evidence drawn from the source
  • student applies rhetorical analysis terms and strategies learned in class (Note: while this assignment asks you to use the specialized rhetorical terms discussed in class, this is not merely a demonstration of your knowledge of those terms. In other words, you must apply these terms to come to a new understanding of the ad under scrutiny.)


Other Requirements

  • 1500 words (roughly 6 double-spaced pages)
  • MLA OR APA format

Preview of the answer..

This advertisement belongs to Red Bull, an energy drinks manufacturing company. There are numerous firms operating in this industry, something that has forced them to use advertisements as a competitive strategy. However, they need to ensure that the adverts they come up with are extremely appealing to customers. This aspect has led to these firm using lies to convince their customers. The advert above was designed in 2010. This came as the company wanted to reach out to many customers,..

APA 1676 words


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