Analytical writing identifies the elements within a text and describes the relationship among those elements. For example, you can analyze a text in terms of the rhetorical devices an author uses (such as ethos, pathos, logos) or how the text fits into a larger cultural discussion. By examining these elements we determine how logical the thesis is and how effectively it is conveyed to a reader.
This assignment develops critical thinking skills, such as drawing inferences and making conclusions, as they fit into the genre of rhetorical analysis. It also gives you a chance to reflect on shifting issues and attitudes in American culture.
You will look at a set of two articles, and will break down the article elements to:
• determine how they function
• analyze the strategies the authors use to construct their arguments, focusing on their use of logos, pathos, and ethos
• compare and/or contrast the two articles’ strategies
• evaluate which are successful or unsuccessful, and why, and/or how they fit into a larger cultural discussion
You do not have to discuss all three logos, pathos and ethos strategies in your essay, but you will need to focus on a point of similarity and/or contrast between the articles. Remember the Rhetorical Questionnaire. (Some articles contain a small picture to help sell their points—you can make use of the pictures in your analysis, but keep it brief. Discussion of the pictures cannot take up a large portion of your essay.)
Below are the topics of three recent “Today’s Debate” columns in USA Today, plus another few topics I found in the university library’s Points database.
• Football Hazing
“Today’s Debate” is a section of the editorial page that presents two columns arguing different positions on the same issue. According to their website, “opinions expressed in USA TODAY’S editorials are decided by its Editorial Board, a demographically and ideologically diverse group that is separate from USA TODAY’S news staff. Most editorials are accompanied by an opposing view—a unique USA TODAY feature that allows readers to reach conclusions based on both sides of an argument rather than just the Editorial Board’s point of view.”
In order to be active, responsible citizens, it is important that people are able to navigate these debates, figuring out where different writers stand and determining the major elements of their arguments. This assignment will help you gain this critical skill.
This assignment builds on the moves used to construct persuasive arguments in the last portfolio project. It will also help you work on the critical reading and critical thinking skills we have practiced throughout the semester.
An analysis is NOT the same thing as a summary or an argument. Instead of just presenting the main points for each article or using them as evidence to support points to persuade a reader, you are breaking the articles apart, identifying the strategies used to create them, and determining how those strategies further the writer’s purpose for his or her chosen audience.
For this assignment, I want your analysis to emphasize the three major appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos. You must use one or all of these terms correctly in your essay.
Assume that your audience has read the articles. As a result, you do not have to spend much time or space summarizing them. A sentence or two giving the main points should be enough. However, you must draw on specific evidence from the articles to support your points. This means you should paraphrase and quote selectively. The strategies we first learned with the summary/response project will come into play here.