Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis of a News Article

Purpose: A close reader of the world looks beneath the surface of behavior and language, and explores instances of communication as rhetorical events rich with meaning. The purpose of this assignment is to analyze an online news article, and identify and discuss the writer’s rhetorical decisions and their impacts. Rather than state whether you believe the article is “good” or “bad”, or whether you liked it or not, apply a close-reading of the text. This assignment includes two main deliverables: 1) a written essay, and 2) a class discussion.

I. Written Essay (Individually Written)

Craft a coherent rhetorical analysis essay that includes the following two components:

  1. Very brief summary of the article
  2. Close reading of the work

For the summary portion (1), rather than describe everything in the article, very briefly share only the main points of the article. The summary should be no more than a brief paragraph. In your close reading (2)—the heart of this assignment—you should include and provide evidence for the following information:

  • Who is the author? (name, title, and credentials)
  • Where was the article published? (newspaper/magazine/website title)
  • What is the purpose and goal of the article?
  • Who is the intended audience of the article?
  • How does the author use rhetorical appeals, and for what purpose?
    • Ethos: appeals to the character/expertise of the writer and cited authorities
    • Logos: appeals based on logic, reasoning, and relevant evidence
    • Pathos: appeals to the beliefs, emotions, and values of the audience
  • What rhetorical choices does the author make to achieve his/her goals?
    • Diction, figurative language, tone, organization, length
  • Does the writer use visual images in the article? If so, what is their impact?
  • What evidence (if any) does the author provide to support her/his claims?
  • Where does this evidence come from?
  • What research might the author have conducted before writing the article?
  • What information does the author not include in the article, and why?
  • Is the author biased in any way?
  • Is the article trustworthy?

II. Class Discussion (Co-Lead With a Partner)

You will lead a 10-15 minute discussion of the article with a classmate, which will require you to meet beforehand and plan your questions. After introducing the article, try and stimulate discussion among your classmates with purposeful, open-ended questions. As mentioned above, the written rhetorical analysis essay should be completed individually, and the discussion should be led jointly with your partner.

Audience: Your audience for both the essay and discussion includes your teacher and classmates: we are a community of diverse people interested in the rhetorical choices involved in science articles written for the public. Since we have not read the article as closely as you have, it is critical that you provide the reasoning for all of your analytical claims involving the article.

Be sure to support all of your analytical points with specific evidence from the article, which will help your audience comprehend and support your rhetorical analysis. Since your audience has learned about the elements of a rhetorical situation (e.g. audience, purpose, context, genre) and rhetorical appeals (e.g. ethos, logos, pathos), you do not need to define these concepts in your essay.

Format requirements: MS Word (.doc) or Adobe (.pdf) with the following:

  • 1"X1" margins
  • Size 12 Times New Roman font
  • Single-spaced text
  • 600-800 words
  • Include page numbers

Before you submit your essay, re-read your writing, preferably aloud, to detect ideas that need to be tightened and/or reorganized for clarity.

Due Date: Be sure to write down and remember your specific due date and assigned article. Upload your essay to the course website anytime before your class discussion.

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