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Essay # 1: Rhetorical Analysis
Thinking and Writing about Visual Arguments
Practicing rhetorical analysis is a common and practical use of critical thinking, whether you’re in or out of the classroom. Cultural critics, political commentators, advertising executives, lawyers, religious leaders, etc. all make a living doing it. For the rest of us, rhetorical analysis allows us the opportunity to read and interact with arguments and visual rhetoric in a conscientious, deliberate manner, and provides the tools and awareness needed to identify and evaluate the mechanisms of argument.
ASSIGNMENT: Choose a static image advertisement (magazine, billboard, bus bench, etc.) from the 1980’s or earlier and identify its author, primary agenda, intended audience, and the choices made to appeal to or persuade that audience. In particular, your analysis will focus on rhetorical appeals—ethos, logos, and pathos (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.—as a way to determine if those choices are effective. Most importantly, you must make a clear argument with your rhetorical analysis. Therefore, your paragraphs must be well developed and focused and your overall claim about the advertisement (your thesis) clear. Because your essay concerns a visual argument, pay attention to the layout, design, use of color, etc..
Remember, in a rhetorical analysis your main purpose is not just to agree or disagree with the argument; instead, you need to focus on how the writer (or photographer, artist, etc.) expresses his or her opinion and on whether the writer succeeds in making a point. In other words, you will be writing about an argument, not about a particular topic.
AVOID overly simplistic ads with little to no imagery. Don’t choose an image for sheer shock value. Older and local adverts from areas outside your own often make for the most interesting papers.
FOCUS: appropriate tone for audience (classmates and instructors); paragraphs are well developed (reasons support your claims), focused (one main idea per paragraph), and build on one another without redundancy; evidence of risk-taking in your critical thinking (a willingness to read beyond what seems obvious)
OPTIONAL: If you are familiar with rhetorical tropes and schemes (i.e. metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, synecdoche, metonymy, anaphora, alliteration, selective repetition of words, etc), you may include how they contribute to the image’s argument in your essay.
900 words, typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point Font
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