Essay 1: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument Inquiry

Essay 1: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument Inquiry

Due dates for the rough draft peer review and the final draft can be found on the Assignments link and the Course Calendar at the beginning of each module (also on the Course Homepage). Please note these dates so that you leave yourself plenty of time for the writing process.


All of the readings below will be found online. The highlighted links should take you straight to each article.

Writing Task:

Choose one of the above assigned readings (Schlosser, Lappé, Lee or Berry) and write a 850+ word (3-4+ pages) paper that presents an objective, thorough analysis of the assigned reading you are focusing on.

Purpose: One of the first steps in learning to craft a successful argument of your own is learning to analyze the arguments of others to explore the powers of persuasion. For this essay, you will be analyzing the argument presented in one of the above four essays.

Your goal: To look closely at a written argument and analyze how the various components of the argument work together to achieve the writer’s goal of persuading their audience that their argument is worth considering. Because analysis requires reading and evaluating on a deeper level, the final draft of this essay will need to go beyond summarizing and avoid personal response. Your final draft of Essay 1 should show evidence of critical reading and thinking resulting in discussions about the author’s choice and use of language, evidence, organization, and other writing strategies to persuade his/her audience. Essentially, you are examining the effectiveness and appeal of the writer’s argument.

Process: This essay may be somewhat different from essays you have written in previous writing classes as it will be focusing on HOW an argument works vs. summarizing or responding to main points. In your paper, you will be examining the various strategies an author uses to present an argument, and then evaluating the success (or not) of the author’s approach. Your paper will focus on several of the author’s main strategies such as use of language, use of facts, author’s experience, and your thesis will make a claim about the overall effectiveness of author’s article.

Note: Your overall evaluation of the reading (your thesis) may take a number of forms. Based on your close reading of the author’s argument, you may decide that the argument is effective, not effective, or somewhere in-between. For instance, an argument can be generally persuasive, but perhaps something is missing like convincing facts. Or, an argument can miss its mark, but still have some strengths such as descriptive language and audience appeal. You will need to spend some time with your chosen article and the Instructor Insights about rhetorical analysis in this module to carefully think through your final evaluation of your chosen reading’s argument. 

Research?  This assignment does not require any outside research; however, it is sometimes helpful to do some quick research about the author, the publication where the article originally appeared, and general fact-checking. You are free to use any outside information to support your analysis, but remember that this paper is an in-depth analysis of the article, not a research essay. So, if you want to bring in some information about an author’s experience or background to support a claim about an author’s credibility, or if you want to research a publication to get a better sense of the audience the author was writing for, go for it, but don’t let the research take over the paper.  If you use information from outside sources, please cite following MLA format.

To sum it up:

The goal of this assignment is for you to size up an argument and evaluate the overall effectiveness. This paper is not about writing a personal response to the argument or arguing for or against the author’s opinions. To create an effective analysis, you need to step back from the actual issues in the reading and examine the following:

  • The author’s purpose and main claim (thesis)
  • The author’s use of logos (factual and logical evidence), pathos (emotional appeals) and ethos (is the author trustworthy and credible?)
  • The author’s arrangement and order of ideas
  • The author’s awareness of opposing viewpoints
  • The author’s style and audience appeal/awareness including tone, word choice, vocabulary level, choice of examples

You will probably not be able to address all of the objectives above, but as you draft and reflect, you should consider all of them, and then compose your essay around those that stand out the most for your particular reading. 

 Use the Instructor Insight lectures and textbook readings about argument fundamentals, rhetorical analysis and audience to guide your analysis. There are two student models of this essay available in the Week 2 module; look these over to get a sense of what effective rhetorical analysis looks like.Additional requirements:

  • The final draft of your essay should be a 3rd person (no “I” statements or personal response) evaluation of your chosen reading. 
  • You will want to use specific details, concrete points, and direct quotes from the reading to support your analysis.
  • The final draft of the essay will need to be in MLA format. Make sure to cite all direct quotes following MLA format and include a works cited page at the end of the paper. Your works cited page needs to have a citation for the article as well as any other outside sources you cited in the final draft. There will be some weekly assignments to practice using MLA format. 

 Assignment Objectives:

  • To practice critical reading
  • To learn some fundamentals of the academic argument
  • To learn about rhetorical analysis
  • To apply argument fundamentals and rhetorical analysis to a published argument
  • To reflect on audience in the writing of others and your own work
  • To begin working with MLA format
  • To gain a broader understanding of some of the issues and connections between food and politics.

Evaluative Criteria:

  • The essay is an objective rhetorical analysis that focuses on one of the assigned readings. 
  • The essay is written in 3rd person and does not contain any “I” statements. 
  • The essay has a clear introduction that includes information about the reading, including the author’s name and the title of the reading as well as any other information you think the audience needs.
  • The essay contains a thesis statement that makes a claim about the reading and the argument presented in the reading.
  • The body of the essay contains a thorough examination of the different components of the argument presented in your chosen reading. 
  • The body of the essay needs go beyond summarizing the reading and show evidence of evaluation and analysis. 
  • Evaluation and analysis are supported by references to and direct quotes from specific passages in the reading.
  • The essay contains well-developed paragraphs that transition smoothly from one idea to the next.
  • The essay has a conclusion that discusses whether or not the argument as a whole is effective, keeping in mind the argument’s intended audience and goals.
  • The essay shows effort at using MLA format for in-text citations and has a works cited page citing the article and any other outside sources.
  • The essay has been proofread and is free from grammatical errors and typos.

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