The first step is to find something you’d like to write about.
Appropriate topics might include:
a verbal, written, or visual argument that evokes a personal reaction in you. This might be something you’ve read in another class, something you saw on the news, or something you came across the Internet.
a current event or subject that you want to learn more about
a text that you feel has been misread or misinterpreted
Once you have your object of analysis and have done some research to help find evidence, you will want to focus your efforts:
READ your text carefully, and at least a couple of times to ensure that you fully understand what you have read. Can you see the author’s thesis?
Next, start to analyze the features of the text you’re analyzing. Keep the following questions in mind as you read:
Who is the author? Does s/he have credibility to discuss the topic? Is there apparent bias? Is an institution sponsoring him/her, and if so, what does that institution represent?
What is the thesis, and what is the overall argument the author presents?
What did the author choose to study? Why?
What is the writer’s purpose? To inform? To persuade? To criticize?
Who is the author’s intended audience? Does s/he appeal to a resistant audience? A Neutral audience? Or is s/he “preaching to the choir?”
What appeal(s) are applied (ethos, pathos, logos, or a combination)?
How does the writer arrange his or her ideas? Does the author use inductive or deductive reasoning in structuring the argument?
Did you note any fallacies as you read? Is so, which ones?
How does the writer use diction? (Word choice, arrangement, accuracy, is it formal, informal? Technical versus slang?)
Does the writer use dialogue? Quotations? Statistics? Why or why not?
What have others said about this text? Some databases like Opposing Viewpoints will automatically share related articles. If you find an article online, you can search for more information (for example, the student with an interest in video games might search Video Game Violence Reactions).
Please note: If your essay just answers these questions, it will not get a good grade! These questions are designed to be a guide for note taking! Not every question will apply to every analysis, and you may find other appropriate questions to ask that are specific to your selection.
Compose your rhetorical analysis essay using the directions listed in the Instruction section of this lesson. Your essay needs to meet the following requirements:
You should not include more than one in-text citation per paragraph, and the conclusion should contain no citations. In addition, only one short quote and one long quote are allowed per essay.
The essay should be 4-5 pages (not counting the cover sheet) in MLA style.
You will be required to cite at least two sources for this essay (the text you’re analyzing and at least one source to support your analysis). Check out the “MLA Citation Help” page in the ENG101&102 Research Guide to review correctly formatted sample citations and to learn about tools that will generate citations for you!
Your essay must follow MLA formatting guidelines, including in-text citations and a Works Cited page.

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