Project 2: Rhetorical Analysis ESSAY Rhetoric is simply the ability to see the a
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Project 2: Rhetorical Analysis ESSAY
Rhetoric is simply the ability to see the available means of persuasion. –Aristotle
Our first essay focused on WHAT influenced and made an impact on us as learners; the challenge centered on narrowing down a large collection of material (our lives), and offering a specific personal significance. For this next essay project, you will examine significance presented through the perspective of someone else, and use rhetorical analysis to determine WHY a given subject connects with audiences.
Do you remember the Nike “Dream Crazy” ad featuring Colin Kaepernick? It was making the rounds a few years back–2018 or so? Ultimately it’s just an ad for athletic wear, but the context surrounding the endorsement stands as an extremely powerful moment in recent history where a highly paid athlete steps up and assumes the role of activist. The ad became something bigger–it connected with people, resonating in a way that transcends something as frivolous as a pair of shoes. BLM, Kaepernick, and “dream crazy” come together to change the way people feel about Nike and athletics in general–wearing the brand becomes an attitude, or even a political stance in this case. I’m sure you’ve been told that “money can’t buy happiness,” or that “the best things in life are free.” Nevertheless, we each spend a great deal on products every day, and an even larger amount of money is spent attempting to sway our buying decisions. Whether it’s leasing a new car that’s out of our league, or suddenly needing the newest iteration of a phone, or just buying a fresh pair of running shoes, the line between wanting and truly needing something often feels difficult to see–this is largely because of how the underlying rhetorical messages behind marketing affect us. Our second project for this class will examine how the media influences that surround us inform our attitudes and behaviors, and understanding what feelings cause us to make a choice.
Select a piece of media you’d like to analyze; find an advertisement and propose what it’s getting an audience to do besides buy a product. An example–you could look at two different car ads and think about how their approaches differ. Comparing brands, or ads from different campaigns or years might yield interesting results. You might also select a few different ads from a series and propose what they collectively say. After deciding on what subject you’re “reading” for the project, you will make use of visual, textual, and auditory evidence in order to reflect your subject’s point of view. What do you see and hear–how do you respond as a consumer of media? Pick an ad that makes you feel something.
Identify the response an audience might have to your subject, and explain the message the piece speaks, and why RHETORICALLY it manages to influence an audience’s emotions. Try to move beyond what the piece literally says and try to propose what underlying message the piece communicates. What do we think about after seeing the piece? How are audiences likely to react? Consider what resonates emotionally and lingers in the mind–how does the piece interact with our desires and dreams, with our concerns as a culture? You might think of your task as translating the choices of the piece, and proposing the effects of those choices.
. Rather than simply thinking about the product, what idea does the piece attempt to get across? The literal meaning of what’s being presented is obvious; your task is to identify the symbolic appeal. Consider the rhetorical choices that you can identify based on the evidence at hand.
When choosing your subject, here are some questions to consider:
–What strikes you as interesting or emotionally moving?
–Who is the audience? What are they supposed to want and feel?
–Does the piece conform to what you’d expect, or does it do something to break away?
–How is the piece commenting on, taking advantage of, or playing off of our larger cultural context?
–What social norms is it enforcing, or breaking apart from? Gender? National pride? Family values?
–Are there words? Or is your subject more visual? How do the images and the text interact?
–Does the image elicit humor? Awkwardness? Shock? What might be the purpose of the approach?
Expected length is 1200 words. You’re going to include visuals this time, but they won’t count towards this minimum. I will post a template to get started with, in case if you’re having trouble with length–you don’t have to cover ALL the rhetorical bases, but that should be a good start. You’re welcome to bring in comparisons or additional examples as well.
With this project, I’m most interested in your ability to PROVE something to the rest of us, to help us see what we could not before. Form an argument about the topic, use your rhetorical analysis to support.
Keep in mind that I’m not giving you points to simply describe what happens in the ad–we can all see that. Articulate a point of view, and use the body paragraphs to back up your claim with observations and insights.
Looking for a student sample to get ideas? Chapter 5.4 (pg 141) in Writer’s Loop provides us with Jared analyzing Nike’s “Dream Crazy” ad from 2018. This should give you an idea of what we are aiming for.
–Length minimum of 1200 words
–At least four visuals aids in the essay. Screen capture some moments that you want to point out.
–At least four rhetorical categories applied in the essay
choose between book concepts:
ethos, pathos, logos, kairos (ch. 5.3)
audience, purpose, tone, genre, context (ch. 2)