Due: Wednesday, 16 February.
For this assignment, I want you to find and print out a poster from an
online source, and then perform a rhetorical analysis of it. In performing
this analysis, I want you to interrogate and explain the decisions that
the author made when they created the poster. Naturally, your analysis should
do much more than just summarize; although you should discuss the basic
features of the poster, you should do this only as it is relevant to the
analysis you are performing. The key to successful analysis is supporting
your claims. Offer evidence to back up your arguments about the author's
strategies, their purpose, their audience, their style, their message, and
whether their piece works or not.
I'm providing the following questions as a guide for your thinking; you
don't have to answer them all in your analysis. Keep in mind that you can
also discuss whether the author fails or succeeds on any of the points listed
below, but again, be prepared to back up your claims.
What is the reason the poster exists?
What is the author's purpose?
What is the author talking about? What is their argument?
Who is the author? Who is speaking in the poster? Why?
What conversation does the poster come out of or speak
- What are the historical and events that surround the poster?
Who is the author speaking to? How do you know?
What assumptions does the author make about his or her
What does the author assume the audience already knows
Does the author make appropriate or inappropriate assumptions
about their audience? How do you know?
What does the audience need to know to understand this
piece? To be persuaded by it?
How does the writer use their assumptions about the audience
to shape the piece?
Is the writer effective in gaining the attention of their
Does the audience fit the situation?
What role does the visual play in your poster?
- How would you describe the visual style of your poster? What other things
employ similar visual styles? What associations is the audience supposed to
make based on visual style?
- What do the images in your poster "say"? Do they make an argument
in and of themselves?
- What do the images say about the author? How do they shape and convey the
- Do the images convey any sort of emotional or pathos appeal?
- How do the visual elements in your ad accomplish what words can't or don't?
That is, why did the author choose to use images instead of words?
- What is the tone of your piece? Is it serious or playful? Is it formal or
- What mechanisms does your poster use to make its point? Does it employ humor,
parody, or irony? Does it use "scare tactics"? Does it present a
- How does your poster use pathos, logos, or ethos appeals?
- Ultimately, how do the elements you have discussed above combine to achieve
the author's purpose?
- Is the argument that the poster presents effective? (Remember our classroom
discussion of what it means to be effective, or successful.) Explain why or
- Are there points of the poster that could use improvement or revision? What
revisions could be made? Justify your revisions.
Your audience for this assignment is me, and I'm looking for thoughtful interrogations
of the author's purposes and strategies, as well as well-defended critiques
of the effectiveness of the posters. Your analysis should be 250–750 words
in length, and it must be accompanied by a printout of your poster. The following
are some sources you can use for your poster images. Please try to find high-resolution
images, and print them out in color if you are able (this is to your advantage—the
more you can make out in your poster, the more you can analyze). You can find
other sources for posters, if you want, but please make sure that they originated
as a print poster, and are more or less noncommercial.