Assignment One: Rhetorical Analysis of a Cultural Artifact (1800-2100 words/6-7 pages double-spaced). 20%

Cultural Artifact Analysis Essay 

A cultural artifact is something produced for a specific community and possibly by the community itself. It could be an object, a text, a piece of art, a place, a piece of media, or some combination of these. Remember, artifacts represent the values of the community. Cultural artifacts are usually, although not always, intended for or connected to public consumption

For this essay your task is to closely analyze a cultural artifact of your choice, to locate its seems and disjunctures, to dig deep into its inner workings/mechanisms, and to discover just what your artifact is telling us about our public and private lives – and how! Sometimes rhetorical and ideological arguments are hidden within objects, messages, advertising, entertainment, etc. In a word, they are all around us. Your job is to exercise your critical capacity and interrogate these things, getting past who they pretend to be, to get to the hidden realms of what these images/objects/messages mean but do not say.

For this assignment, you are being asked to select a cultural artifact and consider:

  •   What cultural assumptions/expectations/values are embedded in this artifact?
  •   How are these messages conveyed? Through what rhetorical means? Pay attention to “form” and “tone” here.
  • What is its relationship to our course theme of “Public and Private Lives”?

Here are some ideas for the type of artifact you might choose to analyze:

A mural

A dish from a particular cuisine 

An app

A work of art (a piece of music, a painting or photograph, a film, a TV show, a book, etc)

A building

A newspaper or magazine (online or in print)

An advertisement (print or digital)

A cell phone

A car

A social media platform, like Twitter


There are a few things your essay MUST have: (1) a cultural artifact, one which you should have chosen and announced in advance; (2) analysis focused on the artifact in question (3) a thesis, an argument which you see arising out of your analysis of your artifact. 

Specs: 1800-2100 words/6-7 pages double-spaced. 20% of grade

Format: MLA format. Use Times New Roman Font, size 12, with 1 inch margins on left and right. No cover sheet. Include a header with Professor’s name, class name, date, and your name. Title your essay something creative (AKA not CULTURAL ARTIFACT ESSAY)

Due Dates: 

Plan: Tuesday, Feb 11th: Plan for first essay due (bring in your first and second choice cultural artifacts to analyze and write a paragraph on why each would be interesting to explore)

Draft 1: Tues, Feb. 18th (1200 words minimum)

Draft 2: Tuesday, March 3rd (full length: 1800-2100 words) 

Interview a Family Member: Interview a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent (1500-1800 words/ 5-6 page double-spaced). 15%

Assignment Two: Research-based argument essay (2400 words/8 pages double-spaced). 20%

Assignment Three: Remixed research paper. 20%

Formatting and Word Count: Your papers must always include your name, my name, the name of the course, and the date (all left justified), as well as a title that should be centered. All of this should be in plain text (no bold, no underline, no italics). All essays must be typed and double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point, with 1-inch margins all around. This produces an average of 300 words per page, which means a 5-page paper should be about 1500 words.

MLA Style: All essays must follow the formal guidelines of the Modern Language Association (MLA). We will go over these guidelines in detail in class.