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.