Rhetorical Criticism

We started this class thinking about what texts influenced you as a learner. We then took a moment to consider rhetoric and how appeals work in an abstract sense, looking at advertising as an example. The last segment of the course will focus on applying rhetorical analysis in the world of information. We will assess sources and conduct some research to diversify our own perspective and understanding. Rather than using research to solely find answers, we will evaluate sources to consider more deeply the questions they raise for us.


Check out this video about media bias to begin:


On a daily basis we are exposed to more media than any generation previous. In the video linked above, Damon Brown points out that “The internet has multiplied the amount of information and viewpoints, with social media, blogs, and online video potentially turning every individual citizen into a reporter.” They go on to highlight a problem with this shift: “If everyone’s a reporter, then nobody is. Different sources may disagree on opinions, and even the facts themselves.So, how do we get the truth, or something close?” What gets an audience’s attention isn’t always purely factual, and often our viewing choices are based on convenience or comfort rather than credibility. It’s increasingly difficult to sort out an overwhelming volume of conflicting information. This last assignment is really a chance to approach “information” from a critical place, and to put what you’ve learned about rhetoric into practice. Utilizing the concepts from chapter 5 and the fallacies from 5.3 in Writer’s Loop would be effective ways to start thinking about this.


You have two approaches to select from this time around:


Option 1-Rhetorical Comparison

Find two sources reporting on the same story. How do the sources rhetorically differ in their presentation of a story? You are comparing two approaches to reporting information in this option–how do the two differ in terms of point of view?

Your thesis should argue a difference in purpose based on your analysis. Does the way in which the information gets presented shift how you perceive it? Does it change the way you construct reality?

What voices are featured (ethos), and who is framed as the villain or hero of the story? What images are used, and how do they impact an audience?


Option 2-Piecing Together the Whole Picture

Find a news story on the internet–anywhere you like! Traditional media outlets are a good place to start, so are comedy news shows, but even a tweet or a click-bait article or video works as a beginning. Propose how your subject is operating rhetorically, and what the audience’s intended response might be. You’ll then use our school’s academic database to research, dig deeper, and find more vetted information that might help to clarify, solidify, or challenge your subject’s perspective. What does some work and effort reveal? Your thesis should suggest how the subject presents a story, and how some research might change our reaction.






In analyzing a piece rhetorically, you are welcome to utilize the tools from chapter 5, but also might find the criteria from chapter 8 to effectively serve our purposes as well:



Places to start searching:

PBS Newshour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/

Online “Explanatory Journalism” https://www.vox.com/

US Network News: https://www.foxnews.com/

News source from outside the US: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Comedy News: “Patriot Act” with Hassan Minaj (Netflix); “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Visual news: https://pudding.cool/


Minimum two sources, and four direct quotes that you’ll hold up and examine.

Page length minimum is 1,200 words.

Additionally, I’d like a works cited page in the style of your choosing (MLA, APA, Chicago)

Your library database often provides you with a citation for each source.

The Appendix in our book (pg 227) covers citation.

Also, he is a link to a citation reference page: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html



For more information on Rhetorical Criticism read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetorical_criticism

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