Analyzing Extended Argument

Link to the article


The purpose of this assignment is to analyze an argument in a piece of long-form journalism. As you know from your first assignment, the Self-Reflection, today’s employers place a lot of value on thinking critically, ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, innovation, and a life-long desire to learn. One way to continue to learn outside of school and get exposure to new ideas is by developing skills in regular critical reading and analysis. In your previous assignment, “Understanding Rhetoric and Multimodal Composition”, you made your own original Storify and then you explained the rhetorical choices that you made in order to reach a specific audience. This assignment helps you to further your understanding that authors and composers, in any mode, don’t simply make random choices about what and how to write, but rather make careful choices about how to use rhetorical appeals and devices in order to be effective. For this assignment, you will analyze the argument, rhetorical appeals, and rhetorical devices made by an author or authors in a piece of long-form journalism. This essay will help you think critically about an argument and analyze it rhetorically. 


In your essay, you will demonstrate skills in critical thinking, reading, and rhetorical analysis of an argument. You will read and analyze the essay’s purpose, audience, and context, as well as the author’s claim, stakes, evidence, and reasons–including the rhetorical devices and appeals he or she makes to connect with the audience and achieve his or her purpose. Rather than focusing on if you agree or disagree with the article, you will examine the implications of the author’s argument and what you learned from reading it.

You can find an example assignment here: “Using Multiple Modes to Report on Domestic Violence (Links to an external site.)” (Note: The sample essay is longer than the one required in this course, and covers a much longer piece of writing, but it demonstrates the exact skills and concepts you will need to address in order to be successful on your essay about a single long-form article. As stated below in the assignment rubric, your essay should be 650-800 words.)

Assignment Rubric

The criteria for the assignment is below. Each criteria includes example questions you can use as guidance for meeting each of the criteria. As the writer, you will decide which questions (note: not all of them!) to answer and how much time to spend on each criteria based upon your chosen text. You decide what needs to be said. Think rhetorically about your own writing!

Refer to the Grade Guidelines page to see the descriptions for “Achieves Excellence”, “Exceeds Expectations”, “Meets Expectations”, etc.

An essay that “Achieves Excellence” will be distinguished in the following criteria:

Part One of the essay is the summary and analysis of the author’s rhetorical situation (about 300-400 words):

  • The writer summarizes the central claim of the article.
  • The writer identifies and discusses the author’s purpose for writing. (What is the author’s motivation? What is his or her primary goal? How does the writer’s purpose affect medium and genre?)
  • The writer identifies and discusses the author’s audience. (Who is the intended audience? What does the author want the audience to think or do? How does the writer’s audience affect stance, medium, and/or genre? If appropriate, you should discuss how the author uses multimedia or multimodality in order to make his or her argument.)
  • The writer identifies and discusses the author’s context. (What is the broader historical, political, social, or cultural situation in which the author is writing? What social factors might influence the author’s argument or its reception by the audience?)

Part Two of the essay is the writer’s in-depth analysis of the author’s argument (350-400 words):

  • The writer analyzes the author’s claim, including the stakes of the author’s argument. (What is the author trying to get his or her audience to do or accept? How is the issue defined? What is arguable in the article? What is at stake for the author and the audience? What are the ethical, moral, social, personal and/or political stakes of the argument?)
  • The writer identifies and discusses the appeals the author makes in the article. (How does the author make appeals to logic, ethics, and/or emotion?)
  • The writer identifies and discusses the author’s evidence and reasons. (What does the author do to support his or her argument? What appeals does he or she make and why? What is the motivation for accepting the author’s conclusions?)
  • The writer discusses the implications of the author’s argument. (What happens if we follow the author’s line of reasoning? How can the argument be applied to the ‘real world’? What changes or stays the same if we adopt the author’s point of view? What have you learned about the topic?)

In the essay as a whole:

  • The writer meets the standards for effective communication (clarity, logic, precision, accuracy, significance, and fairness).
  • The writer demonstrates reading comprehension and critical thinking.
  • The writer has a thesis statement supported with evidence from the text.
  • The author effectively uses summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation from the article as support for his or her claims.
  • The essay adheres to MLA guidelines for formatting, in-text citations, and the Works Cited page.
  • The essay is approximately 650-800 words.
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