Rhetorical Analysis Paper Requirements
The Rhetorical Situation
For your Discourse Community Analysis, you applied rhetorical concepts to your past experiences in order to explain how you joined a community by learning its distinctive ways of communication. Any time we attempt to join an established group, we usually begin just by listening; this helps us learn the backgrounds of the participants, the common topics of conversation, the values of the group, the distinctive lingo, etc. To put it another way, we must carefully attend what “they say” before we make our own contribution.
For this paper, you will apply critical reading skills as a way of “listening” to a writer engaged in a conversation you’re not yet familiar with. Read the designated article from the topic cluster you’ve selected. Then imagine that you’re a guest editor for The Shorthorn and the opinion editor has asked you to analyze the article and offer your recommendation for or against publication. The editor is looking for columns that UTA students will find interesting, columns that are nuanced and complex, well-argued, relevant, and controversial. You’ll evaluate the article based on those criteria and make your recommendation for or against publication accordingly.
Invention (i.e., discovering what
you’re going to say in this paper)
1. Your editor will need to know the author’s central claim. To identify it, ask yourself the following questions as you read:
- What claim does the author most want readers to grant? If the author could only guarantee that readers would agree to one claim, what would it be?
2. Your editor also needs to know what reasons the author is providing to support his/her central claim. Imagine that you could ask the writer in person, “Why do you believe that [central claim]?” Based on the information in the article, how do you think the writer would answer? Would the writer reply with just one reason, or would there be many? If there would be many, what would they be?
3. Of course, your editor will want to know whether the author provides evidence for his/her reasons and whether that evidence will prove convincing to Shorthorn readers. This means you must combine analysis of the text with evaluation of its effectiveness. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Will Shorthorn readers believe the author’s reasons are true automatically? (If so, then there’s no reason for the writer to provide evidence.) If not, does the writer provide evidence to support his/her reasons? If so, is this evidence sufficient to convince Shorthorn readers that the author’s reasons are true?
4. Your editor will want to know whether the author addresses potential opponents. Ask yourself
the following questions:
- Does the author anticipate objections to parts of his/her argument? If so, does the author represent opponents fairly or set up straw men? Does the author concede certain points to opponents? Does the author provide a convincing reply to opponents?
5. The questions listed above in steps 1-4 deal primarily with the author’s logos appeals, but your editor will also want to know about the author’s ethos appeals. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do the author’s credentials make his/her claims more credible? Does the author seem knowledgeable and well-informed on the topic? Does the author consider alternate viewpoints and treat opponents with respect? Does the author seem to have the audience’s best interests at heart? Does the author draw on values he/she shares with the audience?
6. Your editor will be particularly interested in the author’s pathos appeals, since the main point of your analysis is to determine how the article will be received by Shorthorn readers. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the author evoke emotions in UTA readers that are likely to help his/her case? Does the author evoke sensations in UTA readers that will make the writing seem vivid? Does the author draw on values possessed by the UTA community?
Other Inventional Tips
Even though the main purpose of this paper is to analyze another’s argument, you still need to include a thesis in which you make a claim for or against publication and support that claim with reasons. Your reasons will come from your judgment about whether Shorthorn readers will find the article interesting and relevant.
Your editor is not overly concerned with whether you find the author’s argument interesting or persuasive because you are only one of the thousands of people who read The Shorthorn. Your personal response may be relevant, but only to the extent that your response is representative of the UTA community.
One of UTA’s greatest strengths is its diversity, but this diversity also means that no article will prove effective with every single member of the community. Thus, it’s perfectly legitimate—sometimes preferable—to note that the same appeal will prove effective or ineffective depending on the reader.
Arrangement (i.e., organizing what you’re going to say in this paper)
Ultimately, you want to organize your paper in the manner you think will prove most effective with your editor, but here are a couple tips:
- Heed the lesson of Ch. 1 in They Say/I Say: “To give your writing the most important thing of all—namely, a point—a writer needs to indicate clearly not only his or her thesis, but also what larger conversation that thesis is responding to” (18). In this case, the conversation you’re responding to is simply the one initiated by your editor’s request. Indicate at the beginning of your paper—before you state your thesis—that you’re writing in response to that request.
- Also mind the lesson of Ch. 7 in They Say/I Say: “Regardless of how interesting a topic may be to you as a writer, readers always need to know what is at stake in a text and why they should care. . . . Rather than assume that audiences will know why their claims matter, all writers need to answer the ‘so what?’ and ‘who cares?’ questions up front” (88-89). Even though you’re writing at your editor’s request, you can still make your analysis more significant by explaining why it is important for The Shorthorn to publish—or not to publish—the article you’re analyzing. Feel free to use the templates in Ch. 7 of They Say/I Say.
Style (i.e., choosing the appropriate language for your paper)
In writing to an editor, you’ll continue to practice writing for a specific audience rather than to some vague, generalized audience. When reading your paper, it should be obvious that you’re writing to your editor specifically.
Continue to heed the lesson of Ch. 9 in They Say/I Say and mix standard written English with “the kinds of expressions and turns of phrasethat you use every day when conversing with family and friends” (115). The more important lesson of that chapter is “that your judgments about the appropriate language for the situation should always take into account your likely audience and your purpose in writing” (121). You should adopt a slightly more formal style than in your first paper because you’re practicing a type of professional writing. At the same time, since you’re not writing for publication, you need not adopt the highest level of formality.
All readers appreciate coherent, unified paragraphs, so your paragraphs should include a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea of the paragraph and supporting sentences that cluster around the main idea without detours.
Proofread carefully; avoid errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. Use The Scott, Foresman Writer for questions you have regarding style.
Your paper should be no longer than four pages—anything beyond that length will be considered a failure to adhere to one of the assignment’s basic requirements. It should be double-spaced, typed in Times New Roman font, with 12-point character size and one-inch margins.
Your first submission is due at the beginning of class on _________, and you should think of it as a final draft—something that is ready to be read by your editor. If your first submission does not meet every requirement of this assignment sheet, I will return it to you and count it as late. Both your first and final submissions must be turned in on time—you will be docked a full letter grade for each day either is late.
Peer reviews are due ________.
Final drafts are due _________.
- Includes a snappy title that catches the reader’s attention and indicates the topic and argument.
- Indicates that the author writes in response to a request from The Shorthorn’s opinion editor.
- Includes a contestable, specific, detailed claim for or against publication in The Shorthorn.
- Provides reasons for the decision to publish/not to publish
- Answers the “so what” and “who cares” questions by explaining why the argument is significant and to whom.
- Identifies the article’s central claim and supporting reasons.
- Evaluates how effectively the author supports her/his claims and reasons with ethos, pathos, and logos appeals.
- Evaluates how effectively the author anticipates and addresses counterarguments
- Evaluates whether or not the argument will appeal to UT Arlington readers.
- Integrates examples from the article smoothly, paraphrasing and occasionally directly quoting the article to help substantiate or support points.
- Offers proper attribution to the article via in-text parenthetical citation.
- Comes across as a credible writer, and appeals to the values and emotions of the audience.
- Develops a seamless, coherent, and well-organized argument.
- Sentences are lively, engaging, and relatively error free.
Rhetorical Analysis: Learning to Die in the Anthopocene
In response to Roy Scranton’s article ‘Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene’ I have put together several thoughts that evaluate his claims of the inevitable apocalypse of the human race. Roy Scranton, a former private in the US army relates his experiences in Iraq to the experiences in New Orleans after Hurricane Katarina had hit the state. The similarities of the reactions of people in both cases helped him realize the inevitable end of the human race. He argued that the catastrophic effects of the climatic changes in different parts of the world would destabilize most modern civilization and usher in an era of violence and the fall of the human race. In his argument, he says that the only way the human race can survive would be to embrace the inevitable end of the race and live one day at a time preparing for the painful and inevitable apocalypse. There is no doubt that the Anthropocene is a reality; the effects of human activity have cause an irreparable damage to the environment and are a leading cause of the ultimate end of the universe. The fact is that we live in a dying world and unless we accept our fate as the human race; unless we learn to die in the Anthropocene, we are doomed as a race.
The effects of climate change and global warming are evident to every person in the modern day. The extremely hot summers and extremely cold winters are an evidence of the effects of global warming. An increase in natural calamities such as floods and droughts foretell of a grim future for planet earth. The fight for the scares resources is being felt in different parts of the world. Everyone looks fondly at the yester years when we enjoyed better climatic conditions and food security (Scranton, 2013). Everyone looks at the past with a strong sense of nostalgic longing for such conditions. If the past was better than the present and we have not changed what transformed the past to the present, then we can be sure that the future is grimmer.
With the undoubtedly clear evidence of the rapid decadence of the modern climatic conditions, we can concur with Scranton that the future looks terrible for the human race. The effects of such disasters will destabilize even the strongest civilizations and the humans might hasten their inevitable doom. As evident in the New Orleans Katarina disaster, the civilization of human beings fades away in times of calamity. Roy compared his experience in New Orleans to the experience in the Iraq war. The need to stay alive destabilizes the human mind and turns him into a beast. As global warming increases and the sea level rises, it’s inevitable that such calamities will increase (Hirofumi, 2014). The regions that are safe for human habitation will be fewer and fewer which might trigger a war, as all humans are in pursuit of the scares resources. In a world where W.M.Ds are processed by a number of countries, such a move would only seal an early end to the human race.
Roy acknowledges the slim possibility that in face of such disasters, natural selection would take place and some mutant human creatures might survive in such extreme conditions. Even in such a scenario the mutant strain of the human race would still face extinction as the earth would continually get hotter and hotter until it is unfit for life. Earth will be like Mars or Jupiter, a huge ball of mass but void of life. In that future where all the snow in the Antarctic Circles is melted and the land is scarce, the ability of these mutant creatures to sustain their lives will be minimal. Living in the Anthropocene will be impossible for them and the inevitable human apocalypse will be true.
This article is a prophetic piece that tells of the inevitable apocalypse to every reasonable human being. It appeals to both religious people and atheists, scientists and philosophers and any human being that can reason. Regardless of the beliefs of any individual, the reality of the apocalypse is clear to everyone; the evidence too real to deny. As a military person, Roy has experienced the behavior of humans at its worst. He has felt the experience of disaster caused by war and disaster caused by natural forces. From his experience, we learn that disaster is disaster and human behavior in such conditions is uniform regardless of the cause. From his experience, we learn that climatic decadence, poses a more certain doom for the world than any other factor. It poses a threat of igniting all other human-based disasters in the world. We ought to use his experience to make the world a better place.
His advice to the
world is that we ought to accept our doom as a race. We ought to embrace the
fact that the human behavior has caused some unrepairable damage the
environment. We ought to accept that with the current trends our future
generations are doomed. We ought to embrace that the past is better than the
present and the present better than the future. We ought to learn how to die in
the Anthropocene. Unless we learn to die, we cannot live. Unless we learn to
take a step each day and make the world a better place we cannot survive. Could
a sick person seek treatment unless he accepted that he was sick and without
treatment, he would die? Could an ant fill up its granaries unless he was
convinced that the rains are coming? Could we humans prepare for prevent the
apocalypse unless we accepted that it is coming? The hope of our race lies in
our ability to accept our death and learn to die in the Anthopocene.
Hirofumi, U. (2014). Natural Disaster and Natural Selection. The Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry, 34.
Scranton, R. (2013, November 10). Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/