Rhetorical Analysis

Major Project 2

25% of course grade / 1500-2000 words

Link to Google Doc

For your second major project, you will select two artifacts (i.e. texts) and conduct a comparative analysis of their rhetorical discourse, framing your discussion in terms of one controlling exigence bearing a connection to our course theme of imagined futures. Doing so will require you to first articulate the rhetorical purpose of your two artifacts, exploring where and how they align and diverge in their responses to the controlling exigence at stake. Your next step will be to frame and analyze textual evidence from the rhetorical discourse of your artifacts, in effect discussing how both authors make strategic use of rhetorical conventions in order to effect change in their intended audience. I likewise recommend that you examine how your authors deploy these conventions so as to account for the constraints of their audience and genre of discourse, but I leave this additional layer of analysis up to your discretion; if you think it will support your prevailing argument, then by all means go for it. In either case, it is vital that you work through how and why these authors respectively address their controlling exigence in the ways that they do. The prevailing argument of your paper should, by extension, take a position on the coupled relationship of these artifacts to the rhetorical situation in which they were created. Remember as well to keep a close eye on the theme of your controlling exigence and how it engages with the question of imagined futures, taking efforts in turn to grapple with “the struggle for the right to the future tense” as scholar Shoshana Zuboff put it (57).

From your introductory remarks to your closing statements, moreover, it is paramount that your prevailing argument functions as the backbone or unifying thread of your rhetorical analysis. Put differently, the prevailing argument of your rhetorical analysis should represent the center of gravity around which you frame the core analytical claims of your body paragraph, each of which ought have a role to play in propelling your paper forward. It goes without saying that you will need to not only name but also effectively synthesize the nuts and bolts of your prevailing argument, so please do not hesitate to meet with me during office hours in order to address and unpack this central feature of your analysis paper. It is my hope for you that your prevailing argument endows your paper with its own overarching purpose, ultimately animating the ways in which you actualize your potential as a rhetorical thinker and an analytical writer.

Suggested pairings

Any combination of two (emergent tech, new media, and digital futures):

Any combination of two (social justice, BLM, and racial futures):

Any combination of two (futures thinking, growth mindset, utopia/dystopia):

Grading criteria

Thesis/Focus (40%): How clearly have you informed your readers about the rhetorical situation in which your artifacts were produced? Have you made your prevailing argument clear and legible to your audience? Do you present a prevailing argument that addresses questions of the intended audience, controlling exigence, and rhetorical conventions of your artifacts? Do you integrate and/or synthesize the rhetorical discourse of your two artifacts in relation to their controlling exigence? Have you creatively and cogently framed your argument against  the context of our course themes?

Evidence/Support (30%): How thoroughly do you support your analysis with specific textual evidence from your two artifacts? How efficiently do you integrate direct quotes and paraphrased content from your artifacts without “padding” your paper? How meaningfully do you synthesize analytical positions based on the textual evidence highlighted over the course of your paper? Do you explicitly define and meaningfully analyze how each artifact makes use of rhetorical conventions (e.g. constraints, rhetorical genre ?

Organization (20%): How clearly and intelligibly do you organize the paper? Is the organizational structure of your paper both coherent and readable? Does your paper maintain consistent transitional logic between and among each individual paragraph? Do your body paragraphs each have a controlling idea, including sentence that signposts the reader as to its core claims? Do the core analytical claims of your body paragraphs relate back to the prevailing argument or focus of your paper?

Style, Grammar, and Editing (10%): How precisely have you edited and proofread so that no grammatical or spelling errors detract from the efficacy of your prevailing argument and your credibility as a writer? Does the syntax and diction of your prose effectively convey the subject matter and analytical logic of your argument? Does your rhetorical grammar clearly and decisively carry the argumentative content of your sentences?


Argument proposal: Monday Oct 25 (Prevailing argument draft; >100 words)

Starter draft: Wednesday, Oct 27 (Introduction + 1-2 body paragraphs; >400words)

Final draft: Monday, Nov 1  – Friday, Nov 5 (floating deadline)

Works Cited

Zuboff, Shoshana. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human

Future at the New Frontier of Power. New York: PublicAffairs, 2019.