Rhetorical Analyses

These two short assignments aim to prepare you for our first substantial paper. The main objective through these assignments is to better understand our readings (and the theories, concepts, arguments, and perspectives they embody) and to put them into conversation with some aspect of digital culture. The first rhetorical analysis focuses more on the readings themselves; the second focuses more on the example you want to study from digital culture.

First Rhetorical Analysis (September 12)

For this short assignment (600-900 words), your analysis should focus on one of our class readings (Mendelson, Eyman, Morozov, Vee, Brown, or Twilley – or Belojevic, Klosterman, or Campbell if you want to glance ahead). Your thinking should address the following prompts and questions:

  • What is the main purpose of the reading? What is the author trying to accomplish? What sort of effect does the author hope to have on the reader or on the world more generally?
  • Similarly, does the author offer any specific arguments? If so, what are the main claims? What sort of support does the author offer for these claims in terms of reasons, evidence, examples, or counter-arguments?
  • What keywords or passages from the reading are relevant to our understanding of it? To address this prompt, you could quote these keywords and passages as you address the first two sets of questions. If there are other keywords or passages you want to address, you can take these up separately.
  • What are the uses and limits of this author’s purpose and perspective? In what ways is the author’s thinking helpful, important, and effective? In what ways is the author’s thinking unhelpful, limited, or ineffective?
  • What interests you most about the author’s thinking? How might you develop the author’s thinking further, push it in a different direction, or challenge it? (This is ultimately what we’ll be aiming for in Paper 1.)

By addressing these sorts of questions, your rhetorical analysis should give us a good sense for the article itself and for your response to it.

Second Rhetorical Analysis (September 19)

For this short assignment (600-900 words), your analysis should focus on a text of your choosing. This text can be anything that allows us to further address and consider any of the concepts, questions, or perspectives from our readings. The text could be an article or another piece of writing, a digital culture artifact (a website, videogame, social media platform or posting, hashtag, etc.), or any other cultural artifact (song, image, video, etc.). Ultimately, we want to put this text into conversation with one or more of our readings, and your work should shape and contribute to our thinking on both the text and the reading. Toward this end, you should address the following prompts and questions:

  • What is the main purpose of the text? How does the text work? What does the text encourage us to think, feel, or do? Does the text achieve something in particular, make an argument, or otherwise contribute to a conversation in some way?
  • What keywords, passages, or specific details are relevant to our understanding of the text? How do these details contribute to the larger meaning or purpose of the text?
  • How does this text shape our understanding of the reading from your first rhetorical analysis? What concepts, questions, or perspectives from the reading are relevant to our thinking about the text? How does the text shape our understanding of digital culture?

By addressing these sorts of questions, your analysis should give us a good sense for the text itself and how it fits with the reading from the first rhetorical analysis.