Please use good formatting, such as a legible 12-point font (preferably Times New Roman) and double-spaced body text.
Your first essay will be a polished, comprehensive rhetorical analysis of a published
argument. It should be 2-3 pages long. That means full pagesto the bottom of the
second page, minimum, or the bottom of the third, maximum. Most classes at this level
require 4-6 pages for this assignment. You should aim to incorporate the ideas and rigor
of an essay that lengthplus concise writing.
You should imagine youre writing for an entry-level office job. It will be the first time
the bosses have seen your work, so youll want to prepare a formal essay and impress
them with strong style, perfect grammar, well-developed ideas, and plenty of support. In
other words, show what an asset you are!
The first step toward completing this essay will be to find a written argument to
analyzenot an informative article, not a visual argument, not something from a
textbook. You can find such arguments in the editorial pages of a newspaper, on sports or
entertainment websites, in journals or blogs about your major, etc. It must be less than
one month old. If it is not, I will ask you to re-do the assignment.
Tip #1: Students who choose excellent arguments typically score better and learn
more from this assignment.
Your introduction should establish the basics about the argumentwhat its called,
who wrote it, when and where it appeared. Describe what its about, what the authors
opinion is, why he or she wrote it (and how you can tell), who the intended audience is
(and how you can tell), and/or anything else necessary for understanding the argument.
You might also address your own qualifications to judge it, as Cameron Hauer does.
Is the rhetoric successful? The rest of the essay should be devoted to explaining your
answer. As you consider the elements below, make sure to take into account the
arguments purpose, audience, and context.
Logos: Does the author offer adequate evidence and reasoning?
Ethos: Does the author build adequate trust?
Pathos: Does the author evoke emotion to make readers care?
Tip #2: Your analysis will be an argument itself. That means youll need a thesis, which
should be something like, The argument is a success/failure because … A great place
for this is the end of your first paragraph. Afterward, support your opinions with good
evidence. In an analysis, that mostly means citing specific passages and explaining why
they prove your point.
Tip #3: Your job is not to show why you agree or disagree with the authors opinion.
Dont waste time showing why the author is right or wrong. Your job is only to explain
what rhetorical techniques the author used and whether they are effective.
Tip #4: Just because an argument can be improved doesnt mean its a failure. Its easy to
focus only on what could have been added or improved, but make sure to give authors
credit for all the things theyve already done.