Engl 1302 writing to analyze: rhetorical + visual analysis assignment


Writing to Analyze: Rhetorical + Visual Analysis Assignment

The goal of a rhetorical and visual analysis is not to analyze what a writer is arguing about concerning an issue, but to analyze how the writer and creator of the visual is presenting the argument. You’ll do this by analyzing the use of rhetorical strategies.  Using a text with a visual you select (ads are great), you will provide an objective analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in the writer’s use of ethos, logos, and pathos within his or her textual and visual argument(s).

Purpose:  This assignment prompts you to identify the strategies that a particular written + visual argument employs.  One of the reasons this is useful is that it requires you to understand not just what writers are saying, but also the purposes and motivations behind their arguments.  Also, as you get more comfortable identifying the strategies other writers employ, you will be able to utilize these strategies effectively in your own writing.

Audience: Your audience will consist of your scholarly peers whom you may assume have only a casual familiarity with the issue and the text that you are analyzing.

Content/Subject: Your rhetorical analysis of the text will consist mainly of your analysis of the three rhetorical appeals of ethos, and logos, pathos. 

Ethos deals primarily with credibility. You will want to examine the author’s reputation, authority, and/or expertise.  These factors as well as the argument being made will either improve or detract from the writer’s credibility. 

Logos is concerned with the logic of the writer’s argument.  In considering the writer’s use of logos, you will analyze issues such as the quality and quantity of supporting evidence.  You may also want to consider any bias that the writer might have toward the subject and the effect of that bias upon the argument being presented.  Is the writer’s reasoning sound? Do you identify any logical fallacies? In short, you will want to address any weaknesses and/or strengths in the logic of the argument. 

Pathos deals with emotion.  You should identify any attempts on the part of the writer to evoke a particular emotion from the audience.  Additionally, you will want to consider whether or not appealing to emotion is an effective strategy for the argument being discussed.

Remember: Audience is an extremely important consideration for the writer; therefore, you also want to determine who you think is the intended audience, and explain how and why you came to that conclusion. And, again, you are not developing an argument that advocates in favor of or against the writer’s position/issue.

Your rhetorical analysis of the visual will also include a discussion of ethos, logos, and pathos, but focused on the visual.

Ethos deals primarily with credibility. You will want to examine the creators’ reputations or authority, particularly if they represent an agency or corporation.  These factors as well as the visual itself will either improve or detract from the visual’s credibility and effectiveness. 

Logos is concerned with the logic of the argument.  In considering a visual’s use of logos, you will want to focus on issues such as how the visual is constructed.  For this you will need to address the organization and composition of the visual.  You might also discuss the medium, scale and perspective as well. 

Pathos deals with emotion. You should identify any attempts to evoke a particular emotion.  The content of the visual, the use of color, as well as scale and perspective can be useful in addressing the visual’s appeal to emotions.  Finally, you will want to evaluate whether these strategies are effective in conveying the argument that the visual is advocating.

Finally, you’ll want to consider how the text and visual work together using these questions and other ideas you come up with. 

  • Which is the predominant focus, the text or the visual?
  • Do they complement each other?
  • Does the visual add information that the text does not discuss?
  • How does the visual deepen understanding of the text?
  • Where is the visual placed in the text?
  • What would the text be like if the visual was missing?

Constraints:  This is an analytical, academic assignment, and, as a result, your writing should reflect that.  This means that your paper should be written in an elevated and sophisticated style that makes use of correct grammar and usage.  You should make sure to make a clear and precise argument as you analyze the rhetorical strategies employed in the text that you are examining.

 Specific guidelines for this assignment are:

  • Clear introduction and conclusion.
  • Address all three rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos.
  • Address the issue of audience.
  • Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • 2 pages in length.

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