Rhetorical analysis

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ENGL 1301 - Guide to writing a textual/rhetorical analysis

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Rhetorical analysis

  1. 1. Critical Analysis Analyzing a Text
  2. 2. Rhetorical Context • Background of the author –What makes the author reliable or credible? –Is the writer writing within his or her area of expertise? –Does the author identify with a particular group or set of beliefs? –What experience does he or she have? –Is the author a writer by profession? • Why is that significant?
  3. 3. • Type / Genre of the Source – Is it a researched and documented essay by a specialist? – Is it the text of a speech delivered to a specific audience? – Is it an editorial or an op-ed piece? – Is it a syndicated column, political cartoon, or comic strip? • Why is that significant? Rhetorical Context
  4. 4. • Intended Audience – Who was the article meant for? – Does the author expect a popular audience? A general but educated audience? A specialist audience of shared expertise? – Does the author anticipate an audience that share cultural, political, or religious values? – What type of audience was it? Supportive? Sympathetic? Skeptical? Hostile? • Why is that significant? Rhetorical Context
  5. 5. • Primary Purpose – Is the work primarily informative or persuasive in intent? – Is it designed to entertain or be inspiring? – Does it narrate, describe, illustrate, define, compare, or offer analysis? – What goals does the author identify in his/her thesis statement? • Why is that significant? Rhetorical Context
  6. 6. • Sources of Information – Where was the information obtained? – Are the sources clearly identified? • Beware of “unnamed” or “reliable” sources – What kind of sources does the author use? – Does he rely on facts and figures? Personal experience? Anecdotal evidence? • Why is that significant? Rhetorical Context
  7. 7. Style • Diction and Tone – Is the writer using a conversational tone or a more formal style of writing? – Does the writer use slang words or technical words? – Is the word choice concrete and vivid or abstract and intellectual? • Why is that significant?
  8. 8. • Sentence Structure – Are the sentences generally long or short, or varied in length? – Does the writer use sentence fragments (incomplete sentences)? – Does the writer seem to be using an overly simplistic style? If so, why? – Does the writer use parallelism (coordination) or antithesis (contrast)? • Why is that significant? Style
  9. 9. • Figurative Language – Does the author make use of metaphors or similes? – What are the items being compared? – What is the point of comparison? – What is the emotional impact of the figurative comparison? • Why is that significant? Style
  10. 10. • Organization – Where are the ideas placed? The beginning, middle, end? – What does the placement say about the importance of the idea? – What parts of the discussion are developed at length? – What points are treated only briefly? • Why is that significant? Style
  11. 11. Style • Other things to pay attention to: – Hyperbole (exaggeration), understatement, or irony – Quotation marks, italics, or capital letters – Repetition – Examples

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