writingStudies.pngOn this wikipage, we are going to explore a writing analysis tool called a Rhetorical Analysis. You will read about what students do when they conduct a rhetorical analysis and the question types they use during their analysis.

A.) What do students do when they are Analyzing Rhetorically?

Writers (students):
  • 1. study texts
  • 2. read the work of authors so that they can see the choices that the authors made
  • 3. understand that authors make decisions about what they write
  • 4. understand that authors could have made other decisions
  • 5. realize that texts can be revised
  • 6. realize that texts could always be something more or less than what they are

When writers complete the steps above, they are using a writing analysis tool called Rhetorical Analysis so that they can become rhetorically aware.

A writer who is rhetorically aware, composes text
  • 1. for a specific audience,
  • 2. for a specific purpose and
  • 3. for a specific context.

B.) What Question Types do Students Use to Rhetorically Analyze Text

Gallagher & Lee wrote,
  • Understanding how purpose, audience, and context shape writing (in other words, developing rhetorical awareness) is a matter of asking certain kinds of questions about the texts we read and write (p. 44).

These questions include:
  • a.) What is this text intended to do?
    • (i.) Are its goals implicit or explicit?

  • a.) To whom is the text addressed?
    • (i.) Is the audience addressed directly, or is it implied?
  • b.) Does the text demonstrate that the writer is audience-aware?
    • (i.) Does he or she invoke shared assumptions or beliefs?
    • (ii.) Are other viewpoints, including possible objections, represented and confronted?
    • c.) What writerly choices (in voice, diction, tone, content) clue us in to the intended audience?

  • a.) How does the writer position herself or himself and the text in relation to readers?
    • (i.) What “moves” does the writer make? (For instance, does the writer use rhetorical questions, humor, or self-deprecation?)

  • a.) What genre is this text?
  • (i.) What conventions of the genre do you see? (For example, how long is it? Does it have a title? Are the paragraphs long or short? Is the language simple or complex?)
  • (ii.) Does it use any specialized or “insider” language? How is it organized? Are there any headings? What kinds of transitions? Is there any “signposting” [“ First, we will ...; then we will ...”]?)
  • b.) Are there places where the text departs from genre conventions?
    • (i.) If so, was this a conscious choice by the writer, and if so, why do you think he or she made that choice?

  • a.) What else in the writing situation informs what this text says, or how it says it?
  • b.) How does the medium affect the message?
  • c.) Was the writer helped or hindered by available technologies?
  • d.) Do any recent events cast a particular light (or shadow) on the text? (pp. 45-46)

Sculpture by: James Earle Fraser
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Gallagher, C., & Lee, A. (2008). Teaching Writing That Matters: Tools and Projects That Motivate Adolescent Writers. New York: Scholastic Teaching Resources.