At its most basic level rhetoric is “About using language purposefully, in order to get something done in the world” (What is Rhetoric). It is about suasion, or the attempt to move people in a certain direction using rhetorical means.
In this essay you will select a media artifact that you believe is intentionally meaningful and attempting to be persuasive in some way. Something shorter like a song, music video, online article, tweet, meme, poster, advertisement, etc. would work great for this assignment. Do not select longer form media that you have to describe in detail like a movie, t.v. show, podcast, etc.
You will then be tasked with a short and simple rhetorical analysis of your chosen text. This assignments asks us to question why a communicator might make certain choices depending on their purpose, audience, and the context in which they are communicating (the rhetorical situation). Meaning comes packaged in many forms and can be transmitted with or without words. You will be tasked with showing us how the media accomplishes (or doesn’t accomplish) its goals by analyzing it rhetorically and unpacking the choices that went into its creation.
1) See this link for examples of basic questions to ask in a rhetorical analysis:
2) Here is some more information on rhetorical analysis:
You should read these resources not like a checklist, but like a brainstorm for ideas. Some artifacts may lend themselves better to analysis in certain areas than others. That’s ok. You don’t need to cover every question here, but some of these questions might be relevant to your analysis. Be as thorough as possible. Your paper should take a stance and make an argument about the purpose, audience, intended meaning of the communication, and the ways it attempts to fulfill its purpose, drawing examples from the artifact itself and the rhetorical situation that gave rise to the communication.
This will require a bit of research! For example: if you are analyzing Childish Gambino’s “This is America” music video you might want to research the background of Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino), the context of the time that he made the video, the commercial success of the song and video, the critical acclaim or pushback it received, etc. This research will help you identify the purpose of the song/video and give meaning to the visual rhetoric and lyrics.
Maybe you’re doing something different, like a Meme! In that case, your research would be very different. There is probably no “author” to research; instead, maybe you could try to trace back the origin of the meme a bit. When was the meme created, what was it in response to, what was the rhetorical situation it arose out of? How has the meme circulated or been used? One example would be the recent “ok boomer” meme which has caused some controversy. What is it in response to? How is it being used? Is it harassment and hate speech? Is it a legitimate commentary with intentions to draw attention to a social concern? How does the way it has been used legitimize or detract from the original intent of the meme (as you see it)? These are all questions you can ask in a rhetorical analysis to get at the way a piece of media does its work in the world.
Here is an example, a very simple song analysis:
I don’t recommend breaking your essay into pieces like this, you should write a more coherent essay than this, but the author here does cover the basics very well and did some decent research.
On the Works Cited / References page, provide a link, photo, or some other way for me to view your artifact.
You must cite your artifact properly using both in-text citation and a works cited / references page in proper MLA or APA format, as well as any additional research you do (at least 1 additional source is required).
At least 750 words (not including works cited / references or title page)
MUST CITE your artifact and at least 1 additional source.
Use proper MLA or APA style, including format and citation.