Writing Project 2: A Rhetorical Analysis


Primary Questions to Consider

  • How are rhetorical devices (logos, ethos, and pathos) used in argumentative, long-form journalism?
  • Given the on-going conversation regarding food in American society, what is the author trying to accomplish rhetorically?

Before You Begin

  • Understand what is involved in writing a rhetorical analysis. Briefly, a rhetorical analysis helps you “unpack” the logic used in argumentation. According to Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz, a rhetorical analysis helps you understand arguments. They further say, “You perform a rhetorical analysis by analyzing how well the components of an argument work together to persuade or move an audience” (97). We’ll be talking about this extensively in class.
  • Choose one of the primary articles we'll be using this summer regarding food in America. (You'll be able to access articles via our Library Guide.)


The primary purpose of this assignment is to help you understand how speakers and writers use Aristoliean rhetoric to accomplish their persuasive goals. In so doing, you should learn both how to recognize these rhetorical devices in other genres (current political speeches, mainstream media, essays, and even advertising). As you become more adept at analyzing rhetoric, you will become more skillful in employing rhetoric in your own argumentative writing.

What to Write

Respond to the following prompts to help you begin drafting, clarify your positions, and formulate a thesis:

  • What are the key ideas conveyed in the article? Given the length of the articles we'll be analyzing, this will be an extensive part of the paper.
  • Summarize the key points in the article.
  • When and where was the article published. The type of publication reveals important context about the rhetorical situation.
  • WHO is the writer? What are his or her credentials? What is his or her agenda?
  • What prompted this article? Historically, what was going on that compelled the writer to address this topic? What are (or were) the speaker's political motivations? This section should be addressed extensively. You may need to incorporate academic, secondary sources to support any factual claims you make.
  • Given the historical and political context, what was the writer trying to accomplish? Again, employ secondary sources to support your claims, if needed.
  • Once you have identified what you think the author was trying to do, determine how the author used rhetoric. How did he or she employ logos, ethos, and/or pathos to convince his or her audience that this was indeed the best path to take? This should section should include extensive documentation from your primary source document (the actual article).
  • Your analysis of the author’s use of rhetorical tactics should help you better understanding of how he or she chose to go about constructing his or her argument. What was the author’s argumentative strategy? Why did it work?
  • Here's a website that may help with your rhetorical analysis: http://www.virtualsalt.com/rhetoric.htm


For this assignment, consider your audience to be fellow students and scholars. Think of how you can use your expertise on this article to join the ongoing conversation about food in American society.

Requirements and Forum

  • The paper must be formatted in MLA.
  • You must pay careful attention to accurate documentation of research material. This means you will include a Works Cited list, and use accurate in-text citations to indicate which source you are citing on your WC List.
  • In order to meet the requirements of the assignment, 3-4 pages are likely needed, typed, double-spaced, 12" font.
  • You will likely need additional sources to support your claims. Utilize the databases from the Bell Library to locate current, credible, and relevant sources. AVOID "GOOGLE" BASED SEARCHES.