Rhetorical Analysis Project

In this project, you will perform an in-depth rhetorical analysis of a scholarly journal in your field. You will write an essay that describes your chosen journal, assesses its audience, summarizes an article from it, and analyzes the its particular writing conventions.

Analysis entails looking at something closely and methodically to figure out how it works (or doesn't work, as the case may be). In performing a rhetorical analysis, your goal is to explain what constitutes successful writing within your forum and why. Analysis like this isn't just something that rhetoric nerds do for fun—it is a process that should eventually inform the production of successful writing. The findings from this project will give you practical insight into how to write for your chosen discourse community. You will also gain practical insight into every other assignment you will encounter this semester.

Your rhetorical analysis essay should contain at least the following major sections:

  1. Introduction to the Forum. This section will describe your purpose and provide background information about the academic journal and the academic discipline it represents. 
  2. Audience Analysis.  In this section you will analyze who the audience is for your forum. James Porter's forum analysis heuristic in particular will help you gather evidence about the academic community the journal represents and what they value.
  3. Article Summary. In this section you will quickly summarize a sample article from the journal that you will analyze to help you understand more specifically how the discourse community writes. 
  4. Article Analysis. In this section you will analyze the writing conventions and expectations of the sample article you selected. (Charles Bazerman's checklist of techniques will be particularly useful for gathering evidence here.) Be sure not to engage with the content of the article or discuss the topic the article addresses. Your goal is to analyze the rhetoric of your journal, so keep your attention not on what the rhetors are writing but rather on how the rhetors write it and why they write it that way.
  5. Conclusion.  This section will provide an overview/review of your analysis and offer final clarification and reflection on your findings. What should your readers ultimately take away from your project?

Your evidence will be pieces of the journal and article shown to your audience through direct quotes, paraphrases, summaries, and description. Evidence will be key to making persuasive claims in this project: you will need to gather data, explain the data (and how it supports a specific claim made), and tie your explanation back to the overall thesis of the project.

The Porter heuristic and the Bazerman checklist are there to help you begin your analysis and gather your evidence, but the intention is not for you to answer every question within the body your essay. Particularly since there is some overlap between the two resources, you will have to decide what section in your essay is the best place to use the evidence you gather (if you use it at all).

Your rhetorical analysis essay should be 1,500–2,000 words in length.