engl402: project 1

Project 1: Rhetorical Analysis

Worth 100 points
Draft #1 due 5/13
Final Draft due 5/16

Purpose of Assignment:
A rhetorical analysis is designed to train you to look closely, carefully, and critically at how and why texts (memos, reports, letters, proposals, instructions, pamphlets, etc.) are created in order to determine the overall effectiveness of a text in terms of fulfilling a purpose. These skills are essential training for you as professional and technical writers because they enable you to see a text in a variety of ways, evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, usefulness, credibility, and effectiveness of a document. An understanding of rhetorical strategies also allows you to make conscious choices in your own technical and professional communication.

Overview of Assignment:
Your task is to select a piece of technical or professional writing/communication that is common in your field and analyze its rhetorical situation, including its effectiveness. You will report on your findings in a short essay. I encourage you to consult a profesisonal in your future field in order to discover what texts are commonly produced.


Select a technical/professional document that is commonly produced in your profession. It can be a memo, professional website, report, letter, proposal, instructions, pamphlet, procedures, safety guidelines, etc. It should be at least a page in length. If it is a lengthy document, you can choose to focus on a portion of it. 

Perform a rhetorical analysis based on the concepts presented in the Foss reading and pp 8-9 and 27-30 of Gurak/Hocks . Here are some questions to guide your analysis:

  • Purpose: What possible purposes do you think your document may serve? Are there primary and secondary purposes for the document? Why is this communication important? Why is it needed? What will users do with this information?
  • Audience: Who will be reading, listening to, or using this material? What special characteristics do they have? Which discourse community or communities do they belong to? What are their background and attitude toward the subject?
  • Situation: In what settings will this document be used? Will audience be multi-tasking or distracted? Is the audience likely to be resistant?
  • Word Choice/Voice/Tone : What level of technical language is being used? Does your document present a specific tone? Is the tone formal, informal, angry, sarcastic, humorous, untroubled, etc., or represent a combination of tones? Would you describe the language use as employing ethos, pathos, and/or logos?
  • Examples: What kind of evidence is included in your document? Would you describe the choice of examples as employing ethos, pathos, and/or logos?
  • Document Format : How is the material arranged on the page and to what effect? In other words, how do the visual elements impact the use and purpose of the document? Would you describe the design as employing ethos, pathos, and/or logos?
  • Information Included : Is the information included accessible, relevant, and useful given the purpose?

Write a short essay that analyzes the document you have chosen. To some degree you must cover all of the aspects listed above. Use your answers to the questions above to help you develop your essay, but remember, your essay should be an integrated analysis and not just a list of answers. Conclude with your evaluation of the document's overall rhetorical effectiveness (see pg 28 for chart on document effectiveness). Attach a copy of your document to your paper. 

◦ 2-3 pages, double-spaced, using either MLA, APA, or another specific professional format. If you don’t know how to do this, use Part 6 of your textbook.
◦ First draft due Friday, May 13
◦ Final draft due Monday, May 16

Grading Rubrics
1. Not apparent
2. Not clear, but somewhat evident
3. Clear, but not well conceived
4. Above average
5. Demonstrates excellent critical thinking

• Support of thesis
1. No links between paper content and thesis, and no evidence offered
2. No clear links or evidence offered
3. Evidence offered and links attempted between evidence and thesis
4. Solid connections made and evidence provided
5. Demonstrates excellent critical thinking; organization and evidence offered richly supports thesis

• Discussion of how strategies support the purpose of the text given the audience
1. No links between strategies, purpose, and audience made
2. No clear links offered
3. Some links between strategies, purpose, and audience made
4. Solid connections made and links discussed
5. Demonstrates insightful and thoughtful discussion of how strategies support purpose, taking into account audience concerns

• Evaluation of the document's overall rhetorical effectiveness
1. No evaluation offered
2. Evaluation unclear
3. Evaluation illustrates vague understanding of rhetorical strategies
4. Evaluation illustrates general understanding of rhetorical strategies
5. Insightful evaluation offered that illustrates an excellent use of critical thinking, solid grasp of rhetorical strategies, and attention to p.28 list from textbook

• Polish
1. Many grammatical errors, typos, and no clear citation format
2. Numerous grammatical errors, typos, and unclear citation format
3. Some grammatical errors, typos, and erratic citation format
4. Very few errors and clear citation format
5. Correct use of citation format and free of careless mistakes and grammatical problems.

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