Final Essay Guidelines: rhetoric
This final essay assignment is your opportunity to demonstrate your proficiency with the critical analytical skills you’ve been developing throughout this semester. There are several options for this essay—these options are discussed below. Regardless of which option you select, I’ll assess your final draft according to the proficiency and sophistication with which you:
Produce a well-developed, in-depth, insightful, & interesting analysis that illuminates how your artifact(s) use rhetoric to make meaning and influence audiences.
Apply a method(s) to an artifact(s) to make clear, strong, and method-appropriate claims about how particular elements of your artifact(s) are functioning rhetorically.
Support your interpretations of your artifact(s) with appropriate textual evidence from your artifact(s) and strong, coherent reasoning .
Synthesizes key claims from your analysis together to make a clear, strong, and insightful central argument about your artifact(s).
Demonstrate knowledge of the contemporary sociopolitical issue your artifact(s) addresses by establishing the context, significance, and implications of your artifact(s)/analysis.
Write, organize, and present your ideas and arguments in a clear, sophisticated, and cohesive manner.
Integrate information from an array of credible sources in ways that make substantial contributions to your essay; smoothly and accurately cite that information both in-text and in a formal bibliography (APA format).
An essay that applies one method of rhetorical criticism to one artifact. To produce an in-depth analysis of one artifact using one method, you’ll need to dig deep beneath the surface of an artifact and present your findings in a way that uses your interpretations of specific rhetorical elements of your artifact to tell an interesting, insightful, and unexpected story about that artifact as a whole. Organizing your analysis using several (but not too many) themes (subheadings) may be helpful.
An essay that applies two methods (or concepts from two or more methods) of rhetorical criticism to one rhetorical artifact. To produce an in-depth analysis of one artifact using two (or more) methods, you’ll need to use concepts from each method to enable you to make interesting, insightful interpretations that demonstrate how combining these methods/concepts helps us understand your artifact in unique ways.
You should not write two separate analyses of one artifact. Instead, your analysis should make insightful claims about your artifact and use concepts from each method to illustrate and support those claims. Organizing your analysis using several (but not too many) themes (subheadings) may be helpful.
An essay that applies one or more method(s) of rhetorical criticism to two or more related rhetorical artifacts. There are at least two approaches you might take to this option. If you use this option to analyze two contrasting artifacts (e.g. artifacts that construct two opposing perspectives on a particular issue), you may discuss each artifact separately but should also begin to compare/contrast your findings within your analysis. If you use this option to analyze more than two related artifacts (e.g. to produce an analysis of artifacts that represent a larger genre or discourse on a topic), your analysis should be organized and developed around common themes across all of your artifacts (avoid producing separate analyses of each artifact).
All essay options have the same basic requirements. Essays should conform to the general formatting requirements you’ve been following all semester (Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1” margins on all sides, .doc, .docx, or pdf format) and must be at least 9 full pages of text (and no more than 15 pages). Your essay should include a title page and bibliography in APA format—these do not count toward the page minimum. rhetoric
Research: For this final essay, you must cite at least 4 relevant, credible sources (in addition to your artifact):
At least three sources must be used to help construct the context and/or establish the significance of your artifact(s) in your opening paragraph(s)—these do not need to be scholarly sources but should be reasonably credible/reputable.
At least one source should be used to develop your discussion of method(s)—for this component you should use the Foss textbook.
You must include clear, properly formatted in-text APA citations and a formal APA bibliography for all sources used.
Include a citation to your artifact(s) in your bibliography—you do not need to include a parenthetical citation to your artifact in the text of your essay.
Sections: You should break your essay into three major sections—introduction, analysis, and conclusion—clearly labeled with headings (except introduction—this should be preceded by the title of your paper).
Introductions should do three things:
Use information from relevant, credible sources to establish the context and significance of your artifact and analysis (what larger issue does your artifact speak to and why is that issue important in contemporary society)
Briefly introduce your artifact (e.g. who created the artifact, when, why, for what audience(s)/purpose[s])
Explain your method(s) of analysis (including definitions/explanations of any concepts important to your analysis), and include a specific purpose statement (“In this essay, I….”)
Break your introduction into multiple paragraphs, but don’t use subheadings here. As a whole, this section should provide a thorough introduction to your analysis by telling readers what you’re doing and why it matters. Your introduction should be about 1–2 pages long.
Analyses should begin by providing a vivid descriptive overview of your artifact as a whole. Use illustrative language and elements of your descriptive analysis to provide readers with a full sense of your artifact. Then, focus in on the aspects of your artifact specified by the method(s) you’re applying. Be sure to clearly integrate concepts and language from the method(s) in your analysis.
Remember: Doing a descriptive overview is part of the preliminary analysis process, but you should not include your full descriptive overview in your essay. Instead, you should work elements of your descriptive overview into your analysis.
As with any piece of rhetorical criticism, the focus of this essay should be on your analysis. Your analysis should be the most developed (and the longest) section of your essay and should clearly apply key concepts from your method(s) to illustrate how particular elements of your artifact(s) are functioning. In a 9-page essay, I would expect at least 6 full pages to be devoted to your analysis. It can be difficult to maintain a clear organizational structure and smooth flow in an analysis of this length, so think carefully about the way you’re arranging your claims/evidence/reasoning here. You may use subheadings to point to themes/categories uncovered in your analysis. Use clear signposts and smooth transitions to help connect ideas together. rhetoric
Conclusions should summarize and synthesize the most important findings from your analysis, present a clear, strong, insightful central argument within the framework of your method(s), and reflect thoughtfully on the larger sociopolitical and rhetorical significance of your artifact and analysis. Your conclusion should be at least two paragraphs and about one full page in length. rhetoric
Don’t forget your title page and references page! These pages do not count toward the minimum length requirement for your essay.
You must submit and receive approval on an artifact proposal prior to writing a draft of your final essay.
See guidelines on BeachBoard for instructions & a template; see course schedule for deadline
A’s will be reserved for excellent essays. To earn an A, your essay must be sophisticated and insightful—you’ll need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of rhetoric in general and the method(s) you’re using in particular, proficiency in making/supporting insightful, clear, and interesting interpretations and claims about your artifact(s), a depth of knowledge about the larger sociopolitical issue and scholarly conversation to which your artifact(s) relates, and a keen awareness of the rhetorical significance of your artifact(s) and analysis. Your writing must be carefully proofread, stylistically sophisticated, well organized, and error free. It is very difficult to earn an A on this assignment.
B’s will be reserved for above average essays. To earn a B, your essay must demonstrate a thorough understanding of rhetoric in general and the method(s) you’re using in particular, proficiency in making/supporting clear and interesting interpretations and claims about your artifact(s), significant knowledge about the larger sociopolitical issue and scholarly conversation to which your artifact(s) relates, and an awareness of the rhetorical significance of your artifact(s) and analysis. Writing should be clearly organized, carefully proofread, and virtually error free. It is difficult to earn a B on this assignment.
C’s will be given to essays that demonstrate an accurate understanding of the method(s) you’re using, evidence a satisfactory ability to make/support clear claims about your artifact(s), and appropriately situate your artifact(s) and analysis within a larger sociopolitical and scholarly context. Writing should be carefully proofread with minimal errors. This is the average grade range on this essay.
D’s will be given to essays that do not demonstrate an accurate understanding of the method, a satisfactory ability to make/support clear claims about your artifact(s), and/or a sufficient awareness of the sociopolitical and scholarly contexts of your artifact(s) and analysis. Failing grades will be given to essays that fall significantly short of these requirements.
A score of 0 will be assigned to essays that include plagiarism in whole or in part, including self-plagiarism of work submitted for another class. Please review syllabus and university guidelines on plagiarism and academic dishonesty and be sure to clearly cite any and all sources used in the development of your essay both in the text of your essay and in a formal bibliography.
Please note: essays that do not meet minimum page requirements and citation requirements with proper formatting 12 pt. TNR font, 1” margins on all sides, no extra spaces between paragraphs) will have points deducted from their final grades. Please double check your essay to ensure you’ve met these basic minimum requirements before submitting!
If you fail to meet the minimum page requirement, 5% will be deducted from your final grade for each 1/2 page missing.
If you fail to cite the required number of outside sources, 5% will be deducted for each source missing (this also applies to sources cited in your bibliography but not in your essay or vice versa).
If your document is improperly formatted, 5% will be deducted from your final grade in addition to any page length deductions incurred after reformatting of your document.
Title pages and bibliographies do not count as pages of your essay but are required…2.5% will be deducted from your final grade for a missing title page, and 30% will be deducted from your final grade for a missing bibliography.
If you submit the wrong file or submit your essay in a format I’m not able to open (anything other than .doc, .docx, or .pdf), I will not be able to grade your essay and you will receive a 0. Please check and double check that your essay is properly formatted, saved in an appropriate file format, and successfully uploaded to BeachBoard.
You are always welcome to email me with questions, but I am unable to review emailed drafts or answer substantive questions about essays via email. If you’d like to discuss your work in detail, please schedule a Zoom conference during the last week of classes. I am unable to schedule meetings during finals week.
You are welcome to visit my office next semester to review and discuss your final essay and/or your final course grade. If you would like substantive feedback on your final essay to help with future revisions (e.g. to submit to a conference or journal or to use as a writing sample for graduate school), please indicate this in the text box of your BeachBoard submission. If you do not request qualitative feedback, you will receive a graded rubric only. rhetoric rhetoric rhetoric
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