Rhetorical Criticism

The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that you understand a theory/model/methodology/perspective enough to use it as a lens to analyze a mediated artifact through that lens.

Mediated Artifact: Any artifact that I can find to look at/examine myself. A movie, a lyric, a song, an advertisement… anything that is currently available to the masses may be used.

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Since this is a rhetoric class, I hold this paper to the highest of standards. I assume APA STyle will be correct, grammar will be nearly perfect, and that some eloquence will be engaged. Having a preview and review and good organization like your first paper will be of great help to you.

The same rubric for paper 1 will be used for paper 2, essentially. I just have higher standards.

Luckily, a rhetorical criticism is outlined in five main parts, so your organization should be easy and all you have to do is make sure there is a smooth transition from one section to the next.

Part 1: The question. In this section you ask the question you seek an answer to, for example “Was this speech persuasive?” or “What does Twilight indicate about the state of feminism today?” or perhaps you want to make a claim and prove it: “Photograph by Nickleback is a song that allows listeners to define a loss of innocence or a loss of time in the past.”

Part 2: The Artifact. In this section describe the artifact and all of the IMPORTANT context surrounding it. A song may have hit high on the charts, or a film may have received bad reviews, or an advertisement may have been for a specific and short period of time.

Part 3: The Method. In this section describe in excruciating detail what method you are utilizing in this paper. Give as much information to the reader as you can so that they know what position you are using as a lens. This is where you will have the greatest number of references.

Part 4: Application. In this section simply plug the artifact into the method or place the lens on the artifact to let us know which part of each we should be looking for in the artifact and lens. In short, have them work together.

Part 5: Analysis. In this section, tell us what it all means. Answer your question. Defend your claim. Make an argument for why your interpretation is the correct interpretation.

None of those parts include the introduction or conclusion. So, make those how you want. Those are the five main points of every rhetorical criticism.

The FOUR BEST/EASIEST methods to use are:

Neo-Aristotelian: Best for persuasive speeches or advertisements and the like. Use the five canons with specific focus on levels of style and artificial proofs to analyze.

Toulmin Model: Proclaimed as one of the easiest ways to break down or analyze public argument, this method is very straight foward and clear.

Burkean: Any of the Burkean ideas are good. The Guilt Redemption Cycle, the Pentad, Identification as Peruasion, any of those would work well.

Femisnist/Power Critique. This critique allows you to build your own method for examining power in the text.


Your paper should be 5 pages long, APA style, and
include scholarly sources—the more primary the
source, the better. Your text does NOT
count as a source for reference.

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