Rhetorical Analysis– or how do people talk about stuff?

26 Oct

Step one: Find an article that supports your stance on the topic that you have chosen for your Writing as Activism project. Write the correct MLA style citation for it.

Step two: Find an article that challenges your stance. Write the correct MLA style citation for it.

Step three: Here’s where it gets serious…. Without passing judgment on the content of the article, explain how the article that challenges your stance creates an argument.

  • What types of language do they use?
  • What is the tone of the piece?
  • What form do they choose?
  • Does the piece make use of any of the elements of Aristotle’s three categories of rhetoric?
  • Is the argument or pieces of the argument effective (regardless of whether you agree with the opinion)? Why, or why not?

Step four: Looking at both articles, think about how they talk about the issue. What are the similarities between the two arguments? What does it say about how people articulate their thoughts on this particular issue in a public space?

Step five: Again, looking at both articles, compile a wordbank of key terms. What is the jargon of this issue? What are the common themes/interests/sources?


This may not be the only time in your life that you will be asked to do a rhetorical analysis, and while practicing here will help you and give you some insight into the ways that people construct arguments, it isn’t always easy to do.

Here is a great resource for thinking about rhetorical analysis: http://www.writingcentre.ubc.ca/workshop/tools/rhet1.htm.

This source speaks more about Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion: http://www.public.asu.edu/~macalla/logosethospathos.html.

This source speaks about logical fallacies or faulty evidence/arguments: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx.










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