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Identifying and Analyzing Rhetoric

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TAMIU Writing Center

on 25 March 2015

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Transcript of Identifying and Analyzing Rhetoric

Identifying and Analyzing Rhetoric
Presented by TAMIU Writing Center
Welcome
This presentation was produced by the TAMIU Writing Center to guide students, faculty, and staff on how to identify rhetorical devices and write a corresponding analysis.
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Why Analyze Rhetoric?
To find out why text, images, speeches, etc. are effective or persuasive

To better evaluate arguments

So you can be more persuasive or effective in your work

Useful in multiple fields

Rhetorical Devices
Logos (reasoning)
– appealing to reader’s common sense, beliefs, or values

Ethos (credibility)
– using the reputation, experience, and values of the author or expert to support claims

Pathos (emotion)
– using feelings, desires, or fears to influence readers

Ultimately, in a rhetorical analysis, you are going to determine why a text was effective and/or persuasive.
Logos: Reasoning
If. . . Then:
“If you believe X, then you should believe Y also.”

Either . . . Or:
“Either you believe X, or you believe Y.”

Cause and effect:
“X is the reason Y happened.”

Better or Worse:
“X is better than Y because. . .”

Facts/Data:
“These facts support the argument that X is true or Y is false.”
Examples*:

"If you like cats as pets, then you should like lions as pets, too."

"Either you vote Republican, or you're a Democrat."

"Talking about systematic racism and race is the reason racism, in its many forms, still exists today."

*Note that logos arguments don’t need to be true. They must only be presented in a “reasonable/logical” fashion.
Look for some of these uses of reasoning as you analyze, and ask yourself, “How does it influence an audience?”
Ethos: Credibility
Credentials:
“I have a degree in Z,” or “I am the director of Y,” so “I am an expert on X.”

Expression of good will:
“I want what is best for you, so I am recommending X as the best option.”

Identifying with audience:
“We come from similar backgrounds; therefore, you would likely agree with me that X is true and Y is false.”
Examples*:

"I have a degree in Business…"

"As a business, we’re like family, so we know what’s best for you."

"We both voted for Obama; therefore, we should agree on racism being over."

*Note that, again, for an ethos argument, the credibility doesn’t have to be legitimate—credibility must only be perceived by the audience.
Look for some of these uses of credibility as you analyze, and ask yourself, “How does the author’s credibility influence an audience?”
Pathos: Emotion
Promise of gain:
“Agree with us, and you will gain trust, time, money, love, beauty, happiness, etc.”

Fear of loss:
“If you don’t do things this way, you will lose trust, time, money, love, etc.”

Appeal to anger:
“You should be angry/disgusted because X is unfair/cruel to you, me, or someone/thing else.”
Examples:

"Crime rates will surely drop and you will be safer if we continue to imprison offenders of the law."

"If you don't support the war on terror, your freedoms will be lost."

"You should be outraged over having to press 2 for English when you call a toll free hotline because it is unfair to us as
real
Americans."
Look for some of these appeals to emotion as you analyze, and ask yourself, “How and why does it influence an audience?”
Other Rhetorical Devices
Repetition:
Why are certain words or phrases repeated, and how does it influence an audience?

Example: Maya Angelou's repetition of the phrase, "still I rise," in her poem, "Still I Rise"

Counterpoints:
Look for contrasting ideas, such as political standpoints, good/evil, nature/nurture etc. Why are oppositions paired, and how does it influence?

Personification:
Giving human qualities to nonhuman subjects. How does it influence?

Example: The Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland

Hyperbole:
Exaggerated statements.

Example: "America runs on Dunkin'"

Metaphors/symbolism:
Look for objects that represent broader ideas.

Example: Winter often symbolizes death
Questions to consider:

What rhetorical device is working here?
Are there more than one?
What about this ad makes you want to buy the iPhone?
Questions to consider:

What rhetorical device is working here?
Are there more than one?
How does it work in making you want to save the animals?
Questions to consider:

What rhetorical device is working here?
Are there more than one?
How does it work in making you want to buy cigarettes?
Elements of a Rhetorical Analysis*
Introduction:
Identify what you are analyzing, state your main idea (thesis), offer some background information, and discuss why it is important for your subject to be analyzed.

Explanation of rhetorical concepts:
Ensure you state and explain which concepts you will use to analyze the subject.

Description of subject:


You can provide background information of the organization producing the subject
You can provide a simple synopsis on the subject

You can provide the historical context of the subject:
Who wrote it or presented it?
Who are the intended readers or audience?
Where and when did the subject appear?
*This example outline is not meant to serve as a template upon which to write your paper. Rather, it demonstrates the general academic expectations for a rhetorical analysis. It should be amended and appropriated as needed. Professors' directions should always be prioritized.
TAMIU Writing Center
Thank you and stop by the Writing Center!

Location:
Dr. Billy F. Cowart Hall, 203
Phone:
956-326-2884
E-mail:
writingcenter@tamiu.edu

Find us online!

Website:
tamiu.edu/uc/writingcenter
Facebook:
facebook.com/txamiu.writing
Twitter:
twitter.com/tamiuwc
Pinterest:
pinterest.com/tamiuwc

Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are accepted.
Elements of a Rhetorical Analysis*
Analysis of subject:
This is the main part of the essay. You have to ensure you use the rhetorical concepts you mentioned earlier as the method of analyzing the subject.

Example: If you state that you are going to look at pathos, irony, and repetition in a television commercial, you should focus on those three concepts and how they are effective or persuasive to the viewer or reader.

Conclusion:
The conclusion will review what was discussed in the essay. It will allude to your main point and possibly look to the future.
*This example outline is not meant to serve as a template upon which to write your paper. Rather, it demonstrates the general academic expectations for a rhetorical analysis. It should be amended and appropriated as needed. Professors' directions should always be prioritized.
Questions to consider:

What's happening in this commercial?
What rhetorical device(s) are working in this commercial?
How do they work in convincing viewers to buy AXE?
Updated: 6-18-14
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