English 105: Prompt for TED Talk Analysis

For this project, you will be writing a 2-page (minimum) standard textual analysis of a TED Talk of your choosing. TED Talks are videos in which expert speakers discuss “ideas worth spreading” in all areas—education, business, science, technology, and the creative arts. TED Talks are free to stream.  Follow the posted link to https://www.ted.com/talks and begin browsing through the videos looking for one that appeals to you. The video you choose to analyze does not have to be related to your major, but if you search for videos that do relate to your major or career interests, you are sure to find some that intrigue you. You will then write an essay in which you critically analyze your chosen TED Talk by pointing out its strengths and weaknesses (this is called a textual analysis).

Textual analysis is a method used to describe and interpret the characteristics of a recorded or visual message. The purpose of textual analysis is to describe the content, structure, and functions of the messages contained in texts. You will use textual evidence to support a thesis you have asserted about the effectiveness of your chosen TED Talk. Textual evidence consists of summary, paraphrase, specific details, and direct quotations.

The key here is that you are not solely providing a summary of the TED Talk but are instead offering your analysis of its effectiveness. Think about the following issues:

  • the main point of the talk
  • how it is organized
  • how it is supported (with facts, evidence, research, examples, etc)
  • what the speaker’s qualifications are that give them credibility on this issue
  • who the intended audience is and how they are reached (who would benefit the most from listening to this presentation?)
  • what the speaker’s main goal is (i.e. to persuade, to inform, to motivate to action, etc)
  • what rhetorical appeals the speaker uses
  • whether or not they have any logical fallacies
  • what the context and importance of the issue at the root of the TED talk are, and what effect they have on the audience

In your essay, you will need to cite the TED Talk you are analyzing, but you may (or may not) choose to include additional research as well. All sources must be cited within your essay using parenthetical citations, and these sources must also appear on a Works Cited page (use the links to the Purdue OWL for MLA guidelines). We will be developing the citation for the TED Talks together in class.

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