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Paper 2 – Rhetorical Analysis
English 1301: Rhetoric and Composition I
The Rhetorical Situation
For your Discourse Community Analysis, you applied rhetorical concepts to your past experiences in order to explain how you joined a community by learning its distinctive ways of communication. Any time we attempt to join an established group, we usually begin just by listening; this helps us learn the backgrounds of the participants, the common topics of conversation, the values of the group, the distinctive lingo, etc. To put it another way, we must carefully attend what “they say” before we make our own contribution.
For this paper, you will apply critical reading skills as a way of “listening” to a writer engaged in a conversation you’re not yet familiar with. Read the designated article from the topic cluster you’ve selected. Then imagine that you’re a guest editor for The Shorthorn and the opinion editor has asked you to analyze the article and offer your recommendation for or against publication. The editor is looking for columns that UTA students will find interesting, columns that are nuanced and complex, well-argued, relevant, and controversial. You’ll evaluate the article based on those criteria and make your recommendation for or against publication accordingly.
Invention (i.e., discovering what you’re going to say in this paper)
1. Your editor will need to know the author’s central claim. To identify it, ask yourself the following questions as you read:
• What claim does the author most want readers to grant? If the author could only guarantee that readers would agree to one claim, what would it be?
2. Your editor also needs to know what reasons the author is providing to support his/her central claim. Imagine that you could ask the writer in person, “Why do you believe that [central claim]?” Based on the information in the article, how do you think the writer would answer? Would the writer reply with just one reason, or would there be many? If there would be many, what would they be?
3. Of course, your editor will want to know whether the author provides evidence for his/her reasons and whether that evidence will prove convincing to Shorthorn readers. This means you must combine analysis of the text with evaluation of its effectiveness. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Will Shorthorn readers believe the author’s reasons are true automatically? (If so, then there’s no reason for the writer to provide evidence.) If not, does the writer provide evidence to support his/her reasons? If so, is this evidence sufficient to convince Shorthorn readers that the author’s reasons are true?
4. Your editor will want to know whether the author addresses potential opponents. Ask yourself
the following questions:
• Does the author anticipate objections to parts of his/her argument? If so, does the author represent opponents fairly or set up straw men? Does the author concede certain points to opponents? Does the author provide a convincing reply to opponents?
5. The questions listed above in steps 1-4 deal primarily with the author’s logos appeals, but your editor will also want to know about the author’s ethos appeals. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do the author’s credentials make his/her claims more credible? Does the author seem knowledgeable and well-informed on the topic? Does the author consider alternate viewpoints and treat opponents with respect? Does the author seem to have the audience’s best interests at heart? Does the author draw on values he/she shares with the audience?
6. Your editor will be particularly interested in the author’s pathos appeals, since the main point of your analysis is to determine how the article will be received by Shorthorn readers. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Does the author evoke emotions in UTA readers that are likely to help his/her case? Does the author evoke sensations in UTA readers that will make the writing seem vivid? Does the author draw on values possessed by the UTA community?
Other Inventional Tips
Even though the main purpose of this paper is to analyze another’s argument, you still need to include a thesis in which you make a claim for or against publication and support that claim with reasons. Your reasons will come from your judgment about whether Shorthorn readers will find the article interesting and relevant.
Your editor is not overly concerned with whether you find the author’s argument interesting or persuasive because you are only one of the thousands of people who read The Shorthorn. Your personal response may be relevant, but only to the extent that your response is representative of the UTA community.
One of UTA’s greatest strengths is its diversity, but this diversity also means that no article will prove effective with every single member of the community. Thus, it’s perfectly legitimate—sometimes preferable—to note that the same appeal will prove effective or ineffective depending on the reader.
Arrangement (i.e., organizing what you’re going to say in this paper)
Ultimately, you want to organize your paper in the manner you think will prove most effective with your editor, but here are a couple tips:
• Heed the lesson of Ch. 1 in They Say/I Say: “To give your writing the most important thing of all—namely, a point—a writer needs to indicate clearly not only his or her thesis, but also what larger conversation that thesis is responding to” (18). In this case, the conversation you’re responding to is simply the one initiated by your editor’s request. Indicate at the beginning of your paper—before you state your thesis—that you’re writing in response to that request.
• Also mind the lesson of Ch. 7 in They Say/I Say: “Regardless of how interesting a topic may be to you as a writer, readers always need to know what is at stake in a text and why they should care. . . . Rather than assume that audiences will know why their claims matter, all writers need to answer the ‘so what?’ and ‘who cares?’ questions up front” (88-89). Even though you’re writing at your editor’s request, you can still make your analysis more significant by explaining why it is important for The Shorthorn to publish—or not to publish—the article you’re analyzing. Feel free to use the templates in Ch. 7 of They Say/I Say.
Style (i.e., choosing the appropriate language for your paper)
In writing to an editor, you’ll continue to practice writing for a specific audience rather than to some vague, generalized audience. When reading your paper, it should be obvious that you’re writing to your editor specifically.
Continue to heed the lesson of Ch. 9 in They Say/I Say and mix standard written English with “the kinds of expressions and turns of phrase that you use every day when conversing with family and friends” (115). The more important lesson of that chapter is “that your judgments about the appropriate language for the situation should always take into account your likely audience and your purpose in writing” (121). You should adopt a slightly more formal style than in your first paper because you’re practicing a type of professional writing. At the same time, since you’re not writing for publication, you need not adopt the highest level of formality.
All readers appreciate coherent, unified paragraphs, so your paragraphs should include a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea of the paragraph and supporting sentences that cluster around the main idea without detours.
Proofread carefully; avoid errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. Use The Scott, Foresman Writer for questions you have regarding style.
Your paper should be no longer than four pages—anything beyond that length will be considered a failure to adhere to one of the assignment’s basic requirements. It should be double-spaced, typed in Times New Roman font, with 12-point character size and one-inch margins.
Your first submission is due at the beginning of class on _________, and you should think of it as a final draft—something that is ready to be read by your editor. If your first submission does not meet every requirement of this assignment sheet, I will return it to you and count it as late. Both your first and final submissions must be turned in on time—you will be docked a full letter grade for each day either is late.
Peer reviews are due ________.
Final drafts are due _________.
• Includes a snappy title that catches the reader’s attention and indicates the topic and argument.
• Indicates that the author writes in response to a request from The Shorthorn’s opinion editor.
• Includes a contestable, specific, detailed claim for or against publication in The Shorthorn.
• Provides reasons for the decision to publish/not to publish
• Answers the “so what” and “who cares” questions by explaining why the argument is significant and to whom.
• Identifies the article’s central claim and supporting reasons.
• Evaluates how effectively the author supports her/his claims and reasons with ethos, pathos, and logos appeals.
• Evaluates how effectively the author anticipates and addresses counterarguments
• Evaluates whether or not the argument will appeal to UT Arlington readers.
• Integrates examples from the article smoothly, paraphrasing and occasionally directly quoting the article to help substantiate or support points.
• Offers proper attribution to the article via in-text parenthetical citation.
• Comes across as a credible writer, and appeals to the values and emotions of the audience.
• Develops a seamless, coherent, and well-organized argument.
• Sentences are lively, engaging, and relatively error free.
• Essay is 4 pages in MLA Style (no Works Cited necessary) in 12pt. Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins.
• Submitted complete drafts on time. Drafting process shows evidence of revision of content and style.
• Provided adequate help to peers during peer review.
Sample Rhetorical Analysis
I am writing in response to your request that I analyze David Horowitz’s “In Defense of Intellectual Diversity” and make a recommendation for or against publication in The Shorthorn. I have considered the rhetorical appeals of Horowitz’s piece and determined it will be largely unpersuasive with readers of The Shorthorn. That said, readers are likely to find the piece interesting, as it addresses the topic of political advocacy in the classroom, which is an important issue for students and professors alike. Nearly all members of the UTA community would agree that students should not be forced to agree with the political beliefs of their professors, and it is important to be aware of arguments like Horowitz’s, which accuse college professors of failing to maintain neutrality on political issues.
Horowitz’s central claim is that colleges and universities should adopt and enforce his Academic Bill of Rights. He provides three supporting reasons for his central claim, which he mentions toward the beginning of the article: “The bill’s purposes are to codify the AAUP’s tradition of academic freedom; to emphasize the value of ‘intellectual diversity’; and, most important, to enumerate the rights of students not to be indoctrinated or otherwise assaulted by political propagandists in the classroom or any educational setting.” These reasons are all valid because they rest on the shared assumption that colleges and universities should take action if academic freedom is not being protected and students’ rights are being violated. Horowitz’s reasons all relate to maintaining academic integrity, which is likely important to the readers of the The Shorthorn.
Although Horowitz may provide valid reasons for his claim, he does not provide sufficient evidence to support these reasons. For his first reason, that it is necessary to codify the AAUP’s tradition of academic freedom, Horowitz mentions a conversation with the president of the Colorado University system in which the president expresses satisfaction with current guidelines. He then briefly follows with an observation of how tough it is to find AAUP principles on CU’s website. He has simply shown what readers of the The Shorthorn already know: that information about academic freedom, while perhaps a few clicks away, exists and is publicly available. Further, many readers of The Shorthorn, particularly those who are heavily involved with UTA, likely know exactly where to find the University’s statement on academic freedom.
For his second reason, that it is necessary to emphasize the value of intellectual diversity, Horowitz provides a blanket statement that academic fields should foster “a plurality of methodologies and perspectives” because of “the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge.” Readers of The Shorthorn would want specific answers as to what, exactly, this would mean, especially since it would impact them all. Would this translate into mandates that opposing viewpoints be brought in for sake of “balance”? Readers might well hear the phrase, “Fair and Balanced,” the FOX News slogan. And they would probably conclude that is not an appropriate way to develop a college curriculum. Opposing positions should not be brought in just to be “fair” any more than “flat earth society” members should be given equal time in the astronomy schoolbooks to balance out “round earthers,” or that members of NAMBLA should be provided a respectful response against those pursuing the prosecution of pedophiles. It’s not a matter of being fair, Shorthorn readers would argue; it’s a matter of being correct, and being able to back it up with solid, objective research.
Finally, for his third reason, that it is necessary to remove partisan politics from the classroom, he provides anecdotal evidence such as the following: “At Duke University this year, a history professor welcomed his class with the warning that he had strong ‘liberal’ opinions, and that Republican students should probably drop his course. One student did.” Although Shorthorn readers probably think that students should feel comfortable in an academic setting, Horowitz does not provide enough information to convince them that this is a widespread problem. He also cites the number of political cartoons “ridiculing Republicans” plastered in the hallway of the Political Science department at the University of Colorado at Denver. Readers of The Shorthorn likely believe that the presence of these cartoons encourages intellectual and passionate discourse, which, in turn, promotes intellectual diversity. In a third anecdote, Horowitz describes a book required of all incoming freshman at North Carolina, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, as a “socialist tract,” which works to alienate Shorthorn readers who have read, and perhaps think highly of, the text.
Horowitz does make an attempt to address counterarguments. He states his bill explicitly “forbids political hiring or firing.” This would be a nugget of good news to Shorthorn readers. He says the bill is essentially apolitical, that its point is to remove “partisan politics from the classroom.” But readers would then question who would be the judge deciding what information was considered partisan and what was not.
Horowitz attempts to establish credibility by reassuring readers that although he himself is a “well-known conservative,” the ABR’s intent is to protect the right and left-leaning professors. To further placate readers, Horowitz specifically names liberal academics he called upon to search the bill for political bias, and even admits to removing entire portions based on their feedback. On the other hand, he seems to think that a conservative writer/pundit has earned a right to critique professors, yet his own words incriminate him when he warns non-history professors who discuss current events in class that “intrusion of such subject matter, in which the professor has no academic expertise, is a breach of professional responsibility.” Horowitz, in fact, has committed a breach of professional responsibility, intruding where he has no academic expertise.
Finally, Horowitz appeals to the emotions of his Shorthorn readers in ways that both help and hinder his cause. Early in the article, Horowitz tries to show his readers that his bill actually defends everyone regardless of political affiliation: “The bill thus protects all faculty members—left-leaning critics of the war in Iraq as well as right-leaning proponents of it, for example—from being penalized for their political beliefs.” This early attempt to appeal to his readers is effective until he negates this claim in the next paragraph, stating that faculty hires should be made “with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives.” After a discussion about protecting faculty members by forbidding “political hiring and firing,” he goes on to promote a politically-based process for hiring! Further, by attacking many of the very readers he is writing to, Horowitz evokes anger in them. He first shows great disrespect for faculty by claiming that they “focus merely on their own partisan agendas and abandon their responsibilities as professional educator.” While there may be some Shorthorn readers who agree with this statement, the majority of them would not agree that this is a widespread problem at UTA. For me, and likely for many other UTA students, Horowitz unintentionally evokes frustration. He pleads with the reader to remove one-sided politics from the classroom, yet it is obvious, when all of his examples are against liberals, that he cannot rid his own paper of the same prejudice that apparently plagues our universities.
Horowitz’s argument is so thin, so anecdotal, and insubstantial it would be shredded by most Shorthorn readers. But shredding an argument can be fun! Especially when it’s on a topic of great interest to readers. This is why I conclude that although most Shorthorn readers will disagree with Horowitz’s argument, we should publish the piece because these same readers will read it eagerly.
I atteched the article that I need to write about!!
Paper 2 – Rhetorical Analysis
English 1301: Rhetoric and Composition I
The Rhetorical Situation
For your Discourse Community Analysis, you applied rhetorical concepts to your past experiences in order to explain how you joined a community by learning its distinctive ways of communication.