Sample Assignment Response: A Rhetorical Analysis for ENGL 112 at DeVry University

To continue on from earlier work (herehere, and here), I will go further along the assignment sequence expected of the students in ENGL 112: Composition and develop the assignment students in the class are asked to do for their fourth week: the rhetorical analysis for which they (and I) planned last week. As previously, I hope that my efforts will assist in my students’ efforts–and others’.

No, it’s not the Illuminati. Just the rhetorical triangle, traditionally and simply conceived.
Image taken from

For the assignment, students are asked to draft a rhetorical analysis of the advertisement they selected in the previous week, asserting whether or not the ad is likely to be effective at its presumed purpose for its presumed audience. The analysis should take the form of a brief (title page and three to four pages of text) thesis-driven essay, formatted according to APA standards and making minimal if any use of outside information other than the assessed ad–which need only be cited by way of providing its URL. It is a fairly standard assignment, calling for a fairly standard response, and one that should emerge easily from the work done in the previous week’s assignment.

To begin my own work, I opened the advertisement being assessed and my earlier planning sheet. I also set up a document for my response, formatting it on letter-sized sheets with double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman type. I then set up my title page and main text, inserting running heads and page numbers as appropriate. (How to do so has been covered during class time; it is also in video tutorials in the University’s online materials.) I hadn’t yet determined a title for the project, so that received attention before I moved further into the work.

Because the current project is an extension of last week’s work, or last week’s work was preparation for the current project, I felt justified in bringing the text over from the planning sheet to the main document wholesale. I had done a fair bit of work on it, and, as I told my students during class time, the more work done on the planning sheet, the less would (in theory) need to be done on the essay itself. I did strip out the headings from the planning sheet, as I do not think them necessary in so short a paper as the exercise calls for; explicit transitions and clear statements of ideas serve to guide readers through the document.

I did notice, though, that I had quite a few paragraphs beginning more similarly than I like to see. Several consecutive paragraphs started with “The ad,” and, while pattern-forming can help to unify a document and to establish argument, the flat beginnings threatened to come off as uninspired and pro forma–and if I am merely going through the motions with something in which I am invested, I cannot hope that readers will engage with it. Consequently, I adjusted my transition into one of the paragraphs, offering some variety in the hope of maintaining readerly interest.

As I made the change, I also noted places where I could connect my prose back more strongly and explicitly to my thesis. The paragraphs treating logos, ethos, and pathos in the advertisement could each stand to have an overt return to the thesis at their ends, so they received such. The third paragraph, describing the advertisement, also looked like it would accept an explicit motion towards the thesis; it received one, as well. (The offers of explicit return to the thesis also helped me make page length; I was a bit short of the full essay in the planning sheet, which is to be expected–and corrected before the full submission.)

Additionally, one or two comments about the desirability of the advertisement’s target audience seemed called for; I made them. Further, given the relatively specialized nature of what was being advertised, I felt it appropriate to offer more context for my discussion as a whole; I expanded my initial paragraph a bit to accommodate that contextualization, which I hope will make clearer what I am talking about.

The content made ready, I deleted my highlighted notes and reviewed my document for style and mechanics. After making the adjustments that needed making, I rendered the document into an accessible format, which I present here: G. Elliott Sample Rhetorical Analysis November 2018. May it be of good service!

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