*NOTE: Sample assignments can be found in the Week 1 Module!
Assignment #1: Rhetorical Analysis of Academic (or Professional) Texts in Your Field. Due by the end of Week 2. Reflecting on “Discourse Communities & Communities of Practice” by Ann Johns and the lecture(s) from Professor Centanni, write a 3 to 5 page paper (not including title and reference pages) that analyzes the rhetorical and linguistic norms of your field based on two (or more) typical texts from your discipline.
It is important to note that a rhetorical analysis should not take a stance on the topic(s) of your text(s), nor should it make value judgments about if the rhetorical norms in your field are “good” or “bad.” In fact, try to eliminate all “praise” or “condemnation” language from academic writing. Instead, just observe and examine the choices that the writers in your field make to appeal to their audience.
Also be sure to do the following:
1) Identify the target audience of each piece. Do not fall into the tempting trap of oversimplifying your readers as the “general public” or “common people interested in the subject.” Rather, look at specific elements within the text that show what assumptions the writer(s) hold(s) about their readers. Focus less on concrete signifiers (i.e., don’t worry about stating exactly how old you think a reader is or what level of education they have) and, instead, try to identify the values this group of readers seems to share – and how you can tell. (This paragraph requires cited evidence.)
2) Identify 3 to 4 strategies the writers use. Each of these strategies should be analyzed according to their appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos); however, APPEALS SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN FOR STRATEGIES. In other words, if the writer tells a sad story, you wouldn’t say, “The author uses pathos.” You would say, “The author tells a sad story to appeal to the readers’ pathos.” So, one more time, DO NOT USE APPEALS AS YOUR STRATEGIES.
After you identify the strategy, be sure to find a quote/paraphrase that illustrates the writer doing so, and then analyze how and why it would likely persuade someone in the field. (These paragraphs require cited evidence.)
Your grade will be earned based on the following characteristics:
a) Genre expectations. This is a formal, undergraduate, rhetoric essay intended for an audience of academic readers who are not members of your discipline.
DO: Use the academic voice (Links to an external site.). Write focused, effective introduction and conclusion paragraphs (Links to an external site.) that meet the expectations of this genre. Have a strong thesis statement (Links to an external site.) that organizes your main purpose for your reader. Structure body paragraphs (Links to an external site.) according to academic writing norms, with specific topic sentences, contextualized evidence, and relevant analysis.
DON’T: Use casual language; mistake speech for writing norms (such as the dreaded One Word Opener or Second-Person Question); skimp on analysis (if you end a paragraph with a quote, you are not doing what is expected).
b) Formatting requirements. This paper must be formatted according to APA Style 7th Edition. You can have all of your questions answered by visiting this Introduction to APA (Links to an external site.) resource, and if you have questions about your citations or references page, see the APA: Citing Within Your Paper (Links to an external site.) or Formatting Your References List (Links to an external site.) pages. Know that you are in complete control of these points, so be extremely mindful of your revision.
DO: Have a title page with your paper title, name, institution, course name and number, instructor name, and due date – formatted correctly. Have a references page with the word References bold and centered at the top, all of your resources alphabetized, double-spaced, and hanging indented, and meeting all other expectations. Do have one-inch margins, correct page numbers, and correct in-text citations for quotes and paraphrased material.
DON’T: Use MLA formatting, APA 6th, or anything else that is not APA 7th Edition; forget citations for material you quote/paraphrase that is not original; leave out any of the above elements and expect to get an A!
c) Minimum assignment requirements. Three to five pages does not mean 2.5 pages. It also does not mean 6 pages. Part of good writing is editing to get it where it needs to be. A two page range is HUGE, so please find a way to get your work into that window. Also include the title and references pages (see above point for help).
d) Grammar, usage, and mechanics. Revise your paper as you write, but also look over it before you submit. There have been excellent papers that have lost entire letter grades due to typos and lack of care. There have also been poorly written papers that gained points due to high levels of revision. Again, this is an area completely in your control. Go to the Writing Center; use Grammarly; ask a friend to read it. There are ways to get this part near perfect.
Please be in touch with any questions, and carefully watch the lecture videos that help with this assignment. It regularly frustrates students who do not seek outside help to see how “harsh” the grades are. The grades are not harsh if you take all necessary, mindful steps to achieve them. I will say this one last time: THE RESOURCES ARE ALL HERE FOR YOU (including the professor himself), SO DO NOT EXPECT AN ‘A’ OR EVEN A ‘B’ IF YOU DO NOT TAKE THE TIME TO TEND TO EVERY SINGLE ISSUE ABOVE.
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