Rhetorical Analysis

A Note to Instructors . . .

COMPSS (Composition Open Materials Promoting Student Success) is a collection of free, high-quality course materials—readings, videos, discussion prompts, group activities, and sample assignment guidelines—available to you as you design and lead low- or no-cost courses in any modality (face-to-face, online, or hybrid). Almost everything about COMPSS can be adjusted to fit the goals of your courses. COMPSS materials can be used instead of or in addition to traditional textbooks; like traditional textbooks,  COMPSS materials supplement (but do not replace) the lectures, activities, and other content you develop for your course.

This unit contains five sections, and each section includes materials for at least one week of instruction. Because one of the guiding principles behind COMPSS is choice, we have provided an abundance of content for you to sort, adopt, adapt, or reject at your discretion. Some sections include more materials than you might typically choose to assign; we invite you to make use of as many or as few of these materials as you like.

All original materials are licensed CC-BY and can be adopted, remixed, or shared at will as long as the materials are attributed (see items in bold font with the  * symbol next to them); some linked materials may have stricter licensing guidelines, although they are all free to use.

One final note: Students who have already completed another COMPSS unit may already be familiar with some of the materials included here.  

We hope you and your students will benefit from using these free, high-quality OER!


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    Major Assignment: Rhetorical Analysis

    These guidelines intentionally do not specify the text students will analyze. You are encouraged to adopt, adapt, or remix these guidelines to suit your goals for your class.

Section 1: Becoming Familiar with Rhetorical Analysis

Students will . . . 

  • Begin considering rhetorical appeals: ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos.
  • Begin considering audience and purpose. 
  • Begin practicing rhetorical analysis.

Section 2: Preparing to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Students will . . . 

  • Observe and begin to practice close reading.
  • Conduct prewriting in preparation for their rhetorical analysis essays.


Section 3: Drafting the Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Students will . . . 

  • Craft thesis statements.
  • Begin drafting their rhetorical analysis essays. 


Section 4: Engaging in Peer Review and Revising the Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Students will . . .

  • Learn about logical fallacies. 
  • Submit complete first drafts of their rhetorical analysis essays.
  • Engage in peer Review.
  • Revise their rhetorical analysis essays. 


Section 5: Finalizing the Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Students will . . . 

  • Reflect on their peer review and revision processes. 
  • Edit and proofread their rhetorical analysis essay drafts.
  • Submit the final drafts of their rhetorical analysis essays.
    • Discussion of peer review and subsequent revision experience *
      • Initial post: Consider your experience conducting peer review. In 5-7 thoughtful sentences, consider some or all of the following:
        • What specific element(s) did your peer reviewer help you improve in your draft?
        • What specific element(s) were you able to identify and highlight in your peer’s writing to help them improve, and how successful do you think you were in helping them improve?
        • In what way(s) did reviewing and providing structured feedback on your peer’s writing help you look at your own writing with fresh or wizened eyes?
        • What do you now understand or appreciate about the process, benefits, or challenges of peer review that you will carry with you as you tackle future writing assignments?
      • Response: Respond to the person you partnered with for peer review.

These materials were compiled by the COMPSS team. All materials created by the COMPSS team (see items in bold with the * symbol next to them) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and are free to use: they can be adopted, remixed, and shared at will as long as the materials are attributed. Some linked materials may have stricter licensing guidelines, although they are all free to use.