Information we consume

Purpose and Description

We analyze texts for many reasons. For one, doing so helps us to think critically about the information we consume. (As you have hopefully discovered, not all information is reliable.) Secondly, it enables us to take part in conversations and help others think critically about the information they consume. Building on these premises, your aim for this assignment will be to develop and refine your inquiry by 1) analyzing how authors make arguments, and 2) exploring how those arguments potentially shape audience understanding of the public issue you have been researching. The stakes involved—and what we gain by taking part in this type of intellectual work—will vary according to your topic and with respect to what you want to accomplish through your analysis. Please consider the following as you undertake and complete this assignment.

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Invention and Inquiry (pre-drafting)

  • Select a text that contrasts in some way with the source you analyzed in Writing Exercise II, and that lends itself to rhetorical analysis;
  • Analyze the text according to the relevant criteria established in your Writing Exercise II, but also according to the criteria which are particular to this new source;
  • Use “The Method,” summarized on p. 27 of our textbook, and “Reformulating Binaries,” summarized on p. 60.
  • Identify how each author argues about and represents the topic in similar and different ways;
  • Take notes as you conduct your analysis, and consider how these texts function as a type of filter or screen through which audiences understand the topic;
  • Take notes on HOW the texts convey their messages;
  • Draft a working thesis statement that suggests how, and the ends to which, these authors use rhetorical strategies to shape the conversation and what that means for the way readers understand the topic in question.

The Composing Process (drafting)

  • Introduce your topic, and how the two sources fit into the conversation on the topic;
  • Present a thesis that you have developed based on your pre-drafting analysis;
  • Carry out your analysis according to the specified rhetorical framework that your thesis points to;
  • Lead readers to a conclusion about the ways in which these texts/authors make arguments and shape understanding of your research topic. How do they use writing and rhetoric to achieve their objectives? What are the stakes involved? What do we stand to gain or lose by thinking critically (or not thinking critically) about these and other sources? Why should we or anyone else care?
  • Conclude your essay by first coming to a conclusion about how the authors use rhetorical techniques, and then by pointing toward additional research and analysis that can be done to better understand the issue as part of an ongoing conversation.

The audience for this assignment is your instructor, your classmates, and, in general, anyone who can access and read information online. You should anticipate that readers have some education and knowledge of the subject but do not necessarily possess a clear or complete understanding of it—or the ways in which authors rhetorically craft information to influence thought and action. Assume that your reader does know the definition of the rhetorical appeals.                Specific Requirements

Your essay should:

  • Analyze two sources that represent differing perspectives, in some way, on your topic;
  • Develop a clear and compelling thesis based on thorough analysis;
  • Draw a conclusion about the ways in which the authors use rhetorical techniques to shape understanding of the topic (and why that should matter to your readers), and point to further research and analysis that would help to understand the issue as part of an ongoing conversation;
  • Be written in a clear, precise, and active prose style;
  • Cite sources correctly using MLA citation style, including both in-text citations and a Works Cited section;
  • Include a title that reflects the spirit and scope of the essay;
  • Be 4-5 pages in length (double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman or Garamond typeface);
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