Rhetorical Theory Paper
COMM-301 Mini-Essay Outline
This general outline is intended to give students basic guidance about writing a mini-essay. This assignment is an opportunity for you try out a rhetorical theory and apply it to a text in a brief format. These 3-5 page papers should achieve the following goals: briefly describe and contextualize the text under study; summarize the rhetorical perspective that will guide your criticism; provide an analysis of the text on the basis of this perspective; make an argument about the rhetorical significance of the text.
In order to maximize your chances of doing well and to reduce your anxiety, I suggest beginning by developing and expanding an outline. Outlines help you structure your writing and ensure that you don’t leave material out.
1) Description of the text
i) Describe the origins of the text.
(1) Who wrote/gave/painted/directed it?
(2) What was the exigence related to the text?
(3) Who made up the text’s audience?
(4) How was the text received by audiences?
ii) Describe of the content of the text—your reader may never have heard or seen this rhetorical text; you must describe it in enough detail that your analysis can be convincing.
2) Summary of rhetorical perspective/lens
a) What approach to rhetorical criticism are you using?
i) How does this approach think about rhetoric?
ii) What kinds of judgments does this approach allow us to make?
iii) According to this approach, what parts of the rhetorical text should we be paying attention to?
3) Analysis (your outline here will be strongly determined by the approach that choose. My example will use Neo-Aristotelianism)
i) Speech type
You MUST cite sources properly. Failure to cite is a form of plagiarism.
Plagiarists receive Fs and may face even stronger penalties.
COMM-301 Mini-Essay Rubric
Best grades will go to those who describe in detail and are clearly expert in the content of the
text and circumstances surrounding its creation and reception.
Application that applies the rhetorical approach
Mini-essays are an opportunity for you try out a rhetorical theory and apply it to
a text in a brief format. These 3-5 page papers should achieve the following
goals: briefly describe and contextualize the text under study; summarize the
rhetorical perspective that will guide your criticism; provide an analysis of the
text on the basis of this perspective; make an argument about the rhetorical
significance of the text.
In Mini-Essay #1, you may choose to use Neo-Aristotelian Criticism, Close
Textual Analysis, or Generic Criticism.
In this essay, I want to see students demonstrate two things in writing: a
knowledge of the rhetorical method they’re using, and the ability to organizeand
perform a criticism
Clear, vivid description of text and context
Accurate summary of chosen rhetorical approach
Your summary should explain how this approach thinks about the text, what kinds of questions
it can answer, and how it will guide your analysis.
Based on your rhetorical approach, help us to understand the rhetorical significance of this text.
Your analysis should help determine which parts of the text deserve our attention and should
explain why/how the rhetoric worked.
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