Essay Assignment: Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical Analysis Assignment: Should Every American Go to College?

A rhetorical analysis focuses on the rhetorical moves a text makes in order to be persuasive. For this assignment, you will use your critical thinking skills to analyze one of the readings from Casebook 21 (“Should Every American Go to College?” beginning on page 679) in the Practical Argument textbook.

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Subject Matter and Objective

For this assignment, you will choose one of the four essays in Casebook 21. Your analysis should consider the essay’s intended audience, question, context, and purpose. Who is supposed to be moved or influenced by this essay? What is the essay’s main question and main idea? Specifically, what is the author trying to get his/her audience to do or consider? In what context was the argument originally written? Then, analyze and evaluate the writer’s use of rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, pathos) in order to construct an effective argument for that audience and purpose and in that context. How well does the writer employ the appeals to achieve the purpose for that audience?

Form of Analysis

You will need to begin this assignment by providing context for your reader. Present some background information on the author and essay in the first one to two paragraphs. This information should include the essay title and author and where and when the essay was initially published. You should include a thesis statement, most likely immediately following the background information. Make claims about the argument in the essay, describing evidence/reasons you have for making these claims, and provide analysis in the body paragraphs. Finally, in the concluding paragraph, summarize your key points, and connect your work to a larger context.

Your finished analysis should contain 800 – 1000 words, not including the Works Cited page.

Rhetorical Situation

Your audience for this assignment consists of academics (scholars, professors, researchers, etc.) who have a professional interest in the fields of Rhetoric, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, etc. You may assume that they have read the article that you are analyzing.

Your purpose in this assignment is to uncover through analysis how this essay attempts to move its intended audience.

Mechanical Requirements

Your essay should follow MLA formatting guidelines for citation, documentation, and page layout. Below you will find information for how to format a page correctly and how to cite and document sources accurately according to MLA format:

Formatting a Document

Documentation Essentials

MLA Parenthetical Documentation

MLA Intext Citations 2018

Additional Resources

You have access to several writing resources in this course. The first,, is a revision tool that will connect you to a live tutor in real time. You can chat with the tutor about your whole draft or parts of your draft, and you can ask specific questions, particularly as they relate to grammar and mechanics. There is a link to as well as instructions for how to use it on our course homepage. To find it, click on our course name at the top of your eLearn screen. Below the announcements, you will find the information.

You also have access, through the library, to NoodleTools. This resource is particularly helpful to citation and documentation. For more information, click How to Use Noodletools (new window).


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