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Carroll, Laura Bolin. "Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis." Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing. Ed. Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky. Vol 1. Parlor Press, 2010. Web.

Stedman, Kyle D.. "Why Study Rhetoric? or, What Freestyle Rap Teaches Us About Writing." Writing Commons. Web.

"What is Rhetoric?" Rhetoric and Writing Studies. Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, San Diego State University. Web.


All of our readings in this project make the case that understanding rhetoric and being able to make use of it is important for a learned individual. I happen to agree with our writers. In this era, when we are bombarded by images, videos, and texts that can be untruthful and misleading, analyzing these texts rhetorically can help us think critically about what is being presented to us. It is a skill that should be a part of every college graduate's backpack of abilities.

Of course, analyzing the rhetoric of others is only one half of the value of rhetoric for me. Why rhetoric is important to me is because I use its principles to guide my own writing, thinking, and moving through the world. Whether it's writing an email, conversing with a student, or creating a piece of creative non-fiction for a literary magazine, rhetoric is part of my thinking. There's really no place that I don't use rhetoric, even with those with whom I'm closest to, like my husband and friends, or those I don't know and may never encounter again. I use rhetorical principles because I want to be thought of well and considered effective in my choice of words and responses by those I come in contact with, and I find employing rhetorical principles helps me get closer to achieving my goal.

Of course, rhetoric is a concept that can be applied to more than just one's thinking or speaking. Places and things can also have a rhetoric as they make persuasive statements about those who live with them. Our clothes, our rooms and homes, our cars, and our other possessions say something about us and persuade others to think of us in a certain way, as Carroll points out in the opening of her chapter. Recognizing the persuasive power of things can help us to think more clearly about our possessions and our actions to attain them. Further, the things we do are rhetorically powerful and persuasive. Often, what we do or treasure persuades others to be our friends or enemies. If we can understand how we rhetorically move through the world, we can gain a better sense of who we are and why others may respond to us in certain ways.

While this project is a class assignment, it is also an opportunity "to know thyself," which Greek philosophers thought was our most important activity. I hope what you gain from this project will stay with you and guide you throughout your future endeavors.

Writing Task

After you have reflected on the meaning of rhetoric and rhetorical analysis, select something about yourself, or your environment, or one of your possessions and write a rhetorical analysis of it. You will need to make generous use of the project readings to define rhetorical terms and theories for your essay. Recognize that as you rhetorically analyze your object, you are also explaining and analyzing yourself. Additionally, you should use what you have learned about rhetoric to think about what content to include in your essay. To assist you in illustrating the points you want to make, you should include texts and images related to the object of your rhetorical analysis.


  • Platform: Drafts must be submitted in CIDocs in the Project 2 Drafts folder by the due date to receive credit.
  • In-text citations: A minimum of four (4) outside sources must be cited (quotes or paraphrases) within your essay. You are encouraged to use class readings or videos as part of your four sources.
  • Works Cited: At the end of your document, you must have a works cited section.
  • Style guide: MLA.
  • Page recommendations: Project length is always up to the writer, but 5-6 pages of text is recommended.

Deadlines and Important Dates

  • Week 11: Draft due.
  • Week 12: Revision due. Midterm. Project 2 draft and log graded
  • Week 13: Portfolio review - All projects should be complete except for final editing.
  • Week 15: Portfolio submission

Due dates for drafts are 24 hours before class meetings.

Further Details.png

What is a rhetorical analysis?

Watch this video. It gives a quick explanation of rhetoric and how to analyze the rhetoric of a text. It was designed by Dr. Kyle Stedman of Rockford University. You are welcome to cite this video in your essay. Here's the link to the video on YouTube.

Working Through the First Draft

  • Select what you intend to analyze for the project.
  • Determine how you intend to show your object or thing in your project. Take pictures and collect images about what you are analyzing.
  • Research the object or thing you are analyzing to find out more about it as well as what others may have thought about its persuasive nature.
  • Write a rich, detailed description of the rhetorical situation for your object or thing using sources to support what you offer.
  • Select which rhetorical ideas from the readings/video you intend to use in conducting your analysis. Identify potential quotes and paraphrases, note writer and page# for readings.
  • Write about the rhetorical ideas you selected and connect these rhetorical ideas to what you chose to analyze.
  • Reread what you wrote and determine a main idea that can pull the entire project together.
  • Draft the entire project.

Using Sources

  • Use the sources about rhetoric made available to you on this page. They will help you explain, define, categorize, which are all necessary elements of a rhetorical analysis.
  • Incorporating sources effectively and smoothly into your text is very important. Here's an article that shows you how to do just that.
  • Pay close attention to how you format your sources, both in-text and in the works cited. Here's a reference. University faculty take this much more seriously than your high school faculty did.

Assignment Outcomes

1. Critical Thinking: Students will achieve the following:

  • an ability to analyze written work;
  • an ability to frame conclusions from a range of information;
  • an ability to predict outcomes based on known information.

2. Communication Skills: Students will achieve the following:

  • an ability to more clearly and more effectively write academic papers;ability to design, conduct and defend a research project.
  • an ability to effectively and convincingly verbalize their ideas;
  • an ability to work collaboratively in group processes.

3. Research Skills: Students will gain the following:

  • a familiarity with CI library resources;
  • a familiarity with major data bases;
  • a proficiency with basic computing skills;
  • an ability to discern valid research conclusions;

4. Self Development: Students will develop an ability to cogently reflect on roles of learning on personal and intellectual growth.


This student document will be assessed for its completeness and effort as part of the draft and log assessment following Week 12. Additionally, this document will be a part of a portfolio consisting of 2 written assignments, which this one is the second. The Writing Criteria in the First-Year Writing Program at CI will be the rubric used for the portfolio assessment.


  • Contact the professor at clifton.justice@csuci.edu
  • Come to office hours as identified in the syllabus.
  • Make an appointment to speak with the professor, if the office hour time doesn't work for your schedule.
  • Talk to the professor before or after class.
  • Go to the Multiliteracy Center for assignment assistance.
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