Argument Analysis

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Argument Analysis

Assignment Description

Your first essay in this course will be a 3-4 page (formatted according to MLA protocol) analysis (including brief summary) of the rhetorical strategies of a particular argument. Remember that this essay is your own—it has your own voice, your own organization and your own thesis statement. Do not mistake the fact that a summary is required for simply borrowing the original author’s rhetorical decisions. There is no place for your response to the topic in an essay of this sort. You are analyzing the rhetorical strategies of the author, not arguing for or against his/her point.
The first step in an essay of this sort is to read and re-read and re-read the text you have been asked to analyze. Be sure to read actively.

Your essay should begin with a SHORT summary of the text you have chosen to analyze. This should be concise and direct and no longer than 150 words. This requirement forces you to focus only on the main points and not include any of the relevant supporting details. This summary should make clear the author’s purpose or thesis.

*Do not allow personal opinion to shadow your objective judgment. Summaries need to be fair and impartial. Also, make use of attributive tags, clearly attributing the ideas to the author (good practice for your final research paper).
Examining the Author’s Methods

This section might begin with your own thesis statement. The organization of your analysis may or may not follow the organization of the piece you are analyzing. Use whatever organizational strategy seems most appropriate and useful for the purposes of your thesis. You will spend the majority of this essay analyzing the author’s rhetorical strategies and illustrating how these choices contribute to the overall effectiveness of the argument.

Questions to consider:

Once you have summarized and exposed the thesis, does he/she state that thesis explicitly or implicitly? What effect does this choice have on the overall argument?

**Did he/she support that thesis adequately and through what means? Did they use statistics and were they interpreted fairly? Did they quote authorities and were those chosen carefully? Or did they use analogy or examples to prove themselves?
What audience does your author seem to target? What strategies does he/she use to gain the trust and readership of that particular audience?
What tone has the author set and how did they establish that tone? Does this tone help or hinder their argument? What can you infer about the author’s persona based on the work you have read?

Has the author established ethos- have they made their authority clear through demonstrating obvious good character?

Essays your analysis group may choose from (all found in your textbook):

  1. Susan Brownmiller’s “Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet” (pg. 47)

  2. Charles R. Lawrence III’s “On Racist Speech” (p. 51)

  3. Susan Jacoby’s “A First Amendment Junkie” (p. 41)

  4. John Irving’s “Wrestling with Title IX” (p. 197)

  5. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (p. 215)

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