Analyzing arguments for a written response
As you know at this point, the arguments we have been reading tend to have certain content in common, and often in the following order: Summaries of opposing views that are refuted or qualified (They Say) A thesis/the main point (I Say) Reasons and evidence that support the thesis (facts, observations, anecdotes, research, expert opinions, etc.) “the development of the essay ) Responses to naysayers/counterarguments (Skeptics May Object) (maybe at the beginning or interspersed throughout) Explanation of the significance of the issue and thesis for the reader (So What/Who cares?) How a writer develops this content depends on the kind (genre) of argument s/he is motivated to write: an academic argument, an editorial, a commentary, a magazine article, or a speech. Writers must make rhetorical choices about how best to communicate their point of view, given the purpose, audience, and place of publication of their arguments. As academic readers and writers, our purpose is to read carefully and critically others’ arguments about important issues to evaluate them fairly and use them effectively in our writing. Assignment Purpose Rhetorical analysis requires you to evaluate whether an argument is convincing and effective by analyzing how writers have composed their texts to persuade their audience. In other words, you focus not on your opinion about the topic presented in the argument but rather on explaining what rhetorical choices the writer has made to put together an argument that appeals (or fails to appeal, or both) to the intended audience. Rhetorical analyses aim to evaluate the content, the rhetorical appeals ”kairos, logos, pathos, ethos ” that attempt to persuade the audience, and the language/style the writer uses to be persuasive. Content and Process for Generating Content 1. Start by carefully reading, rereading, and annotating your chosen argument. To annotate, Keep track of places where you notice the various appeals by putting an "E " (ethos), "P " (pathos), "L (logos), or "K " (kairos) in the margins (sometimes these will overlap as various appeals do spill into each other). Note the structure of the piece and identify parts of the argument that are present or missing (see bulleted content of arguments above). Underline passages that help you analyze the writer’s style, tone, and word choice (diction) as described in Section III or the Rhetorical Analysis Questions. Such choices create the writer’s persona” the sense you have of the person behind the writing as well as their attitudes and/or biases about the issue.
2. Continue annotating and note-taking by answering as many of the questions as you can in the document "Rhetorical Analysis Questions. ."
3. Based on numbers one and two, develop an interesting and specific claim about how the text is working to persuade the audience” your thesis.
4. Next, identify those places in the text that directly support your thesis: How and why did the elements in those places help you arrive at your thesis?
5. Think about the best way to order the rhetorical points you have now identified and to present the evidence for your thesis. Structure The following is a common generic structure for a rhetorical analysis. For each bolded heading, you may well have several paragraphs. Introduction and Thesis: To inform and engage your reader, provide a context, some interesting background, for the issue addressed in the argument. Briefly discuss the author’s background, purpose, audience, and the text’s place of publication. Summarize the argument you are analyzing concisely and objectively (about 200 words), and then state your thesis: the main point you are making about the writer’s rhetorical effectiveness and chief rhetorical strategies. First rhetorical appeal/strategy*: State your point about the rhetorical appeal/strategy and analyze how it works in the argument with examples and discussion/interpretation. Specifically, summarize and/or briefly quote the part of the text you are focusing on and then discuss how it works to affect the audience using one or more of the strategies for persuasion. Second rhetorical appeal/strategy: Same as above. Third rhetorical appeal/strategy: Same as above. And so on, for as many points as you want to make: Be sure to provide plenty of specific details from the text as evidence to support the claims you are making about the effectiveness of each rhetorical appeal/strategy.
Emphasize your sense of the text’s credibility and persuasiveness for its audience. Discuss whether or not you are a part of that audience and explain why the text did/did not persuade you, either fully or partially. *Remember that you will often find the appeals intertwined, so don’t feel it necessary to separate your paper into sections for each appeal. It will be extra useful to think of the points you want to make about how the writer uses persuasive strategies.
The paper follows all the guidelines given above. The analysis focuses on analyzing the effectiveness of the rhetorical appeal(s)/strategies used in the argument and not on responding to the argument. The thesis is specific and detailed. The rhetorical appeal(s)/strategies are clearly explained with a developed discussion of evidence (plenty of evidence) from the text to show how each concept works to affect the audience.
Format: MLA Length 400-600 words. Nowhere in this essay can you speak in the first person.
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