Rhetorical Analysis Project

For this assignment, you will collaborate in small groups to write a rhetorical analysis of the magazine The Atlantic Monthly. You will then use what you learned from the analysis to compose a letter to the magazine's editor.

Rhetorical Analysis

You will begin this project by closely examining The Atlantic Monthly to make determinations about the the magazine's purposes and conventions (forum analysis) as well as who reads the magazine (audience analysis). These analyses must be based on your examination of of at least six recent months of the publication. You will write up these analyses in a report of 1,000–1,500 words in length.

The forum analysis portion of your report should answer the questions posed on this resource on forum analysis (adapted from the work of James E. Porter and presented by Texas A & M University–Corpus Christi). While your forum analysis should discuss the entire magazine, it should pay particular attention to the letters to the editor section that you will write for in the second half of this assignment.

Meanwhile, the audience analysis portion of your report should answer the following questions:

For each answer you provide for the above questions, how do you know? As much as possible, cite direct evidence from the past issues of the magazine to support your claims. In looking for such evidence, be sure to look at all aspects of the magazine, including the advertisements, the layout, the visuals, the written style, etc. You may also find it useful to characterize an "average" reader, or to even characterize several reader profiles.

A Letter to the Editor

After you have come to understand the audience, purposes, and conventions of your forum, you will then write a letter to the editor sharing your response to Nicholas Carr's article, "Is Google Making us Stupid?." It will be up to your group to develop a working consensus about the argument you wish to make in your letter.

Your forum analysis should guide your decisions about the letter's length, style, means of address, etc. In addition, your audience analysis should guide your decisions about the letter's purpose, ethos-building strategies, argumentation, incorporation of research, etc.

Your ultimate goal is to produce a letter that, were it sent to the editors of The Atlantic Monthly, would likely be chosen for publication.

Please see the evaluation criteria for this project for further information.

Creative Commons License
These course materials are licensed by
Jim Nugent and Erik Hayenga under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.