Rhetorical Analysis Draft Jump-Start Activity

This activity will help you think through your analysis of the text you are writing about for your rhetorical analysis essay. After completing this activity, you should be ready to begin writing your draft.  

Step 1: Carefully read and re-read the text you are analyzing.

Step 2: Answer each question below as completely as possible. Incorporate and cite evidence from the text.

Step 3: Review your responses and note the rhetorical features and techniques the author of the article has used that are most striking and effective (or ineffective). 

Article title:

Author’s name (and title or profession, if relevant):

Genre and place of publication:

Summary of the article (max. 150 words): 

Consider the writer:

  • What is the writer’s background (age, gender, education level, profession, area of expertise, etc.)?
  • How does the writer’s background influence his/her perspective?  
  • What motivated the writer to produce this piece?
  • What is the writer’s purpose—that is, what does he or she hope to achieve with this article?

Consider the audience:

  • Who is the author’s intended audience?  
  • How are the audience members’ backgrounds (age, gender, education level, profession, area of expertise, etc.) likely to influence their perspective on the topic?

Consider the message:

  • What is the central claim (thesis) the author is communicating?
  • What features of this argument contribute most to making it persuasive for the intended audience?
  • Are there any particularly striking language choices that contribute to the impact of the argument?  
  • What is particularly memorable or noteworthy about this argument?

Consider kairos––appeal to timeliness:

  • When and where was the argument originally presented?
  • What circumstances motivated the author to write this article?
  • Does the particular time or situation in which this article was have an impact on how compelling or persuasive it is?  

Consider logos––appeal to logic:

  • What reasons and evidence does the author provide to support the thesis?
  • How has the writer acknowledged and addressed alternate views?  

Consider pathos––appeal to emotion:

  • What narrative or examples does the author use that are likely to affect the audience’s emotions? Include and cite examples.  
  • What language—word choice, analogies, or metaphors—does the author use that is likely to affect the audience’s emotions? Include and cite examples.
  • What reasoning does the author use that is likely to affect the audience’s emotions? Include and cite examples.

Consider ethos––appeal to credibility:

  • How does the writer try to seem credible and trustworthy to the intended audience?
  • How fairly does the writer respond to alternative views? 



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