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Preparing for the Rhetorical Analysis

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This activity helps students prepare for their rhetorical analysis by leading them through a set of questions to help them identify important aspects of the rhetorical situation and then exploring the text's use of "available means of persuasion" within that framework.

Activity title: Preparing for rhetorical analysis

Author: Shay Brawn and Sarah Pittock

Course: PWR 1

Activity length and schedule: This activity should be completed at the end of week 1 or during week 2 -- during whatever time your students are preparing to write their RA.  Students will spend approximately one hour completing it.

Activity goals:  Students will refine their understanding of rhetorical concepts discussed in class, develop their ability to use those concepts to deepen their understanding of the rhetorical features of a text, and reinforce or deepen their understanding of how pre-writing activities can enrich the writing process.

Activity details:  Students complete this worksheet, which helps them brainstorm to prepare for the rhetorical analysis. This can be a stand-alone activity, or it can be the first step in an invention process which also involves talking their brainstorm through with a classmate during class time (though that discussion could also be organized to be asynchronous) and then revising their ideas based on feedback.

Students are asked to do the following while filling out the worksheet, through a series of guiding questions:

  1. Identify the problem of knowledge that the text is engaging
  2. Identify the elements of the rhetorical situation that seem most meaningful for their text
  3. Identify the rhetorical "problem(s)"
  4. Identify the most important or interesting elements of how the text addresses the problems they identify

You can find the student-facing handout for this activity here