This rhetorical analysis essay assignment is your second major assignment of this minimester, and it builds upon the skills you worked on thus far. This assignment will require your critical reading, summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, and paragraphing skills all engaged through the Writing Process to achieve a successful essay assignment.
Write a 750-1,250 word analytical essay in MLA format (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1″ margins, etc.).
In this assignment, you will select one of the following readings to engage in a close and careful reading. From there, you will need to think about how the text conveys its main idea, how you are interpreting the text, and why other readers should understand the text the way you do. Please review sections A1 and A3 of A Writers Reference about critical reading and analysis. Pay particular attention to sections A1-d and A1-e. You may choose one of the following readings to analyze:
“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr
“Two-Year Students Have Long had Four-Year Dreams” by Stephen J. Handel
“Manual Labor, All Night Long: The Reality of Paying for College” by Alana Semuels
College Isn’t For Everyone. Let’s Stop Pretending It Is” by Michael J. Petrilli
“Why College Isn’t Worth the Money” by Casey Bond
“Degrees: Who Needs Them” by Blanche D. Blank
“The Case for Universal Higher Education” by Peter D. Salins and Blanche D. Blank
Please note how this paper utilizes all of the skills you have worked on to this point. In this assignment, you are writing a rhetorical analysis of one of the subject readings above.
Your introduction will need to provide a brief, but comprehensive summary of the reading so that a reader of your essay understands the basics of the source reading and then present your interpretation and analysis of the reading in the introduction; your interpretation and analysis of the reading as a whole is your thesis. The content of the essay, a rhetorical analysis of a subject reading, comes from your careful and close reading of the subject article, paying attention to what the point of the article is (thesis), how the author goes about supporting the point s/he is making (supporting points, evidence, logic, etc. that the writer is using that helps us understand (and ideally) accept his/her thesis), and how well s/he supports the thesis (how successful s/he is at achieving the goal), based upon what the author has included (or needed to include, but didn’t, in order to support the thesis); refer to Week 2 on critical reading and analysis.
You will break this overall interpretation and analysis down into smaller parts in the body of your essay, and then for each smaller component of your analysis, you will offer examples from the source reading in the form of paraphrases and quotations to help explain your analysis. In doing this, you will need to make use of your paragraphing skills to construct logical and effective body paragraphs for each of your smaller points of analysis that support your overall thesis; refer to the MEAL plan for body paragraphs.
Note that this essay does not ask you to argue on the topic of the subject essay, but instead explain your analysis of how the author creates meaning. This essay also does not ask you what you think about the topic, but what you think about the reading based upon what IS in the reading or what SHOULD have been in the reading to support the author’s thesis; you should be suspending your judgment on the topic so that you can analyze more objectively what is (or is not) in the article.
In shaping your analysis, work on stating your point without using first-person singular (I, me, my, etc.). Phrases like “I think that,” “I believe that,” or “I feel that” weaken the point you are making with a qualifier of these are just your thoughts. While these are your thoughts, not using first-person will make the message much more authoritative. Writing without using first-person is easier than you might think. For example, “I think you should be able to state your point without using first-person” can be phrased “You should be able to state your point without using first-person;” notice how much more authoritative this sounds.
Also, you will want to be very cautious of using second-person (you, your), as addressing your audience directly can backfire since what you are saying might not specifically apply to that person, and thus, s/he has no motivation to continue reading. Writing without second-person can feel awkward at first, but it is certainly possible. Let’s return to my previous example to see how to write without second-person: “You should be able to state your point without using first- and second-person” becomes “Students should be able to state their points without using first- and second-person.” Notice how, because it does not address the audience directly, this statement can be received by a wider audience.
You need to be sure to cite your source, both in-text/parenthetically anytime you incorporate ideas/words from the source and at the end on the Work Cited page. Use A Writers Reference (see page 363) to help you make these citations accurately.
Please also review the Writing Guide in A Writers Reference on page 69 and the sample analytical essay on page 76. After you have written your essay, you may wish to engage the services of the Tutoring Center or Tutor.com. Finally, review the rubric posted.
This assignment aligns with the following course learning objectives:
Demonstrate writing as a recursive process.
Demonstrate writing and inquiry in context using different rhetorical strategies to reflect, analyze, explain, and persuade in a variety of genres and formats.
Demonstrate the critical use and examination of printed, digital, and visual materials.
Compose texts incorporating rhetorically effective and conventional use of language.