Rhetorical Analysis Instructions

MA #1: Rhetorical Analysis Instructions

Americans are constantly bombarded by political rhetoric, particularly during election years.
Presidential elections are hotly disputed. We still have many examples of political campaigning
fresh in our memories. Much of this rhetoric seems empty and meaningless; what does it mean
to say that “I’m for America,” or “I’m running on a platform of family values?” The purpose of
this project is to help you learn about political rhetoric. You will learn to identify the different
types of appeals, analyze political jargon, and consider how politicians use rhetoric to influence
voters. A good understanding of political rhetoric is an absolute necessity for citizens in a
This project is designed to help you learn about classical and modern rhetorical concepts like
the three appeals (ethos, logos, and pathos), audience, and identification.
Assignment Details
First, visit The Livingroom Candidate website and browse the political commercials
(http://www.livingroomcandidate.org). You can also use a commercial from YouTube or other
site for a political ad, but I recommend the Livingroom Candidate because it provides some
context and background information on the commercial that you may find helpful.
Your 1,000-1,500 word essay should do the following:
1. DESCRIBE the commercial and its historical/political context
2. DETERMINE the intended audience
3. IDENTIFY the types of appeals and issues addressed in the commercial
4. EVALUATE the effectiveness of the commercial.
The commercial will be your PRIMARY source; you also need at least two other SECONDARY
sources to support your arguments or supply additional material.
? These secondary sources can be newspaper or magazine articles, political websites, or
political or rhetorical texts.
? A paper from the International Conference on Language and Education titled,
“Language, Power and Manipulation: The Use of Rhetoric in Maintaining Managerial
Influence,” by Maya Khemlani David
and_Manipulation_The_Use_of_Rhetoric_in_Maintaining_Managerial_Influence) is
accessible and quality source for further understanding the way many politicians use
and control the image they share with potential voters.
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Timp-Pilon ENGL 1309
You must cite all of the materials you use in this project using MLA format.
? You can find information about citing sources on “When & Why Do I Cite,” which can be
found on D2L or by clicking on the following link
Please note: You are not being asked to judge whether the values of the politician are
right or wrong; you are judging whether the commercial is rhetorically effective in
persuading its intended audience.
You might disagree entirely with the commercial and its message, but still recognize that
it was put together well and would resonate with its intended audience.
If accepted, your essay will appear in a special collection of a journal called Student Perspectives
on Political Rhetoric. This journal, while authored entirely by students, clings to very high
standards of professionalism and scholarship. The readers of this journal are undergraduate
and graduate students as well as professors and instructors. Your essay should be written in a
straightforward and engaging style–formal, yet not too dry or dull.
This handout from the Writing Center at George Mason University does a nice job laying out the
points to consider and initial steps in writing a rhetorical analysis:

Additionally, review the information in the Rhetorical Analysis Information portion of D2L.

Rhetorical Analysis Instructions

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