KEY ASSIGNMENT Write an essay in which you analyze the relationship between persuasion and action, behavior, and/or beliefs. ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW Working with a written text that clearly aims to persuade, analyze and assess its effectiveness within a specific context. What can you discern about the original purpose and context of the text? What strategies are used to influence the attitudes, actions, or beliefs of a particular audience? Why do you think these strategies were used for this particular audience? ASSIGNMENT STEPS Remember you are writing for the academic community, so assume your readers are intelligent and aware of current events, but not necessarily familiar with the specific text you are analyzing. Your introduction should inform your audience of the context, intended audience, and purpose of the text you are analyzing briefly. Your thesis should indicate the specific rhetorical strategies your paper will discuss. Your thesis should attempt to synthesize these strategies with the text’s other rhetorical elements. Your first two body paragraphs should develop and support your assertions about the text’s context and audience. You will need to cite information that is not common knowledge, such as demographic statistics that you found in a publication’s media kit, or biographical information about the author. Subsequent body paragraphs should focus on specific strategies. The topic sentence should identify the strategy. You should provide a brief direct quote that serves as an example of the strategy. The supporting sentences should discuss the relationship between the rhetorical effect of the strategy and the context and/or audience. Your conclusion is NOT a shrunken version of your argument; it is an opportunity to make your readers appreciate the time they just invested in your paper. • In this assignment, it is an opportunity for you to reflect on the text’s effectiveness from your perspective, especially if you were not the intended audience. • You could imagine how a different context or a different intended audience would necessitate alternative rhetorical strategies. • You could conclude by thinking about this particular text’s role in the overall discourse—the broader discussion of larger social issues—and determine how thoughtful readers might make the kinds of changes the text’s author would support. In other words, since this assignment is called “Texts in Action,” what logical actions would the reader take (or not take) after reading this text? ASSIGNMENT GOALS • To recognize the power of language to move people to action, whether action takes a public or private form • To understand which rhetorical strategies are frequently used to motivate people to act • To identify the powerful relationships between communication, action, and democracy • To develop strategies for generating writing that inspires action • To learn about rhetoric and rhetorical strategies and to apply that knowledge in writing • To recognize rhetorical strategies as purposeful, deliberate choices • To understand how composers craft arguments to persuade different audiences • To develop and sustain an idea through a well-organized, thesis-driven essay, supported with relevant evidence and examples • To demonstrate reasonable sentence-level control, including syntax and grammar competency, and to cite source material using MLA conventions FORMAT 1200-1550 words or 4-5 pages, MLA format WHY ARE WE DOING THIS ASSIGNMENT? In this unit your aim is to understand how language influences beliefs, attitudes, and/or behaviors. This assignment will give you a better appreciation for, and a heightened awareness of, how people use rhetoric for persuasive purposes—in the process, you’ll no doubt learn how you might do the same. This assignment asks you to reckon with the idea that every text is shaped in particular and intentional ways to have certain effects on readers or viewers. Think of your analysis as a behind-the-scenes exploration of a composer’s rhetorical choices. With this goal in mind, you’ll want to focus on how the message—especially injunctions to feel, believe, or act in certain ways—is composed and delivered for specific audiences at certain moments in time.
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