Rhetorical Analysis

The Purdue OWL’s guide to visual rhetorical analysis is very useful. You may wish to adapt if for your own purposes.

Guidelines for Rhetorical Analysis

A rhetorical analysis asks students to look at a text rhetorically, mainly in terms of its purpose and audience. Students can use it as they begin their own writing processes, and they can use it to help them understand a text that they’re reading.

Rhetorical analyses can take many forms. In this activity, begin by asking yourself what are the text’s key  rhetorical and genre elements? Genres are not rigid and stable, but they are generally recognizable. They contain certain elements (think of the genre of the FB post) and they only make sense in certain contexts.

Linguistic and grammatical elements also inform the text’s meaning, so consider

  • Language–formal or informal? A combination? Does the author use “I”?
  • The mode or modes–narrative (a story), expository (an explanation), descriptive, argumentative, or a combination? Is the overall aim of the essay informational or persuasive?
  • How is it arranged? How does it open? Are there section headers? How much white space is on the page?
  • Is there a claim/support structure? If so, how does the author arrange these elements? What sort of evidence is used as support? Do the authors rely more on emotional, ethical, or logical appeals?

As with all of our analytical assignments, be sure to give evidence to support the claims you make about your article.