1000 word rhetorical analysis essay assignment lavern

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Assignment

ENC 1102 Rhetorical Analysis Essay

After watching your chosen documentary several times, you will compose a rhetorical analysis on the film.

Characteristics of a Rhetorical Analysis

A successful rhetorical analysis will do the following:

  • Accurately describe the text’s argument and main claim to provide context (i.e. determine rhetorical situation).
  • Assert a clear and specific claim (one’s evaluation of the text’s rhetorical effectiveness) early in the essay—usually the last sentence of the introduction.
  • Consider both the text’s strengths and its weaknesses.
  • Effectively deploy rhetorical vocabulary (ethos, pathos, logos) and knowledge into the analysis.
  • Provide specific examples of rhetorical strategies and explanation of HOW they work, giving careful consideration to the intended audience.
  • Effectively integrate quotations and concrete evidence from the text to support claims.
  • Reinforce the claim and assert the significance of the analysis in the conclusion.

Essay Requirements

  • The paper must be 1000-1500 words in length; information on the Works Cited page does not count toward this total.
  • Essays under 800 words will have automatic deductions taken from their earned grade; essays under 600 words will receive a failing grade.
  • The final draft of this paper must be submitted to Canvas (and therefore to Turnitin).
  • MLA format for presentation and for source documentation (in-text citations and Works Cited Page)


I believe that documentaries are a defining medium of argumentation in the 21st century, and there are so many great ones to choose from these days! I try to provide a list of choices that speaks to different interests, but I also look for documentaries that have won awards or generated buzz.

Please choose ONE of the following documentaries to focus on for your Rhetorical Analysis Essay assignment. It would be a good idea to preview all films (I have linked to the trailers posted on youtube) in order to select the one that most appeals to you. Most of these can be located on Netflix; several of them are available through a streaming database in our library; some are available in DVD form at the Reserves desk of TCC Library.

The True Cost (Links to an external site.)(fast fashion and global economics)

* on Netflix and DVD on Reserves at TCC Library

Terms and Conditions May Apply (Links to an external site.) (the internet and privacy)

* on Netflix; DVD on Reserve at TCC Library and Streaming evideo available through TCC Library.

Fed Up (Links to an external site.)(sugar as a cause of obesity)

*DVD on Reserve at TCC Library and Streaming evideo available through TCC Library.

Food Inc. (Links to an external site.)(corruption in American food industry)

*DVD and streaming evideo available through TCC Library.

Tapped (Links to an external site.)(the cost of bottled water)

*available on Youtube

Foodmatters (Links to an external site.)(Let thy food be thy medicine)

*Streaming evideo available through TCC Library.

Mission Blue (Links to an external site.) (the fight to save our dying oceans)

Virunga (Links to an external site.)(the fight to protect Virunga National Forest and Mountain Gorillas)

The Hunting Grounds (Links to an external site.)(sexual assault on college campuses)

*TCC Library also owns copy

Breaking the Cycle (Links to an external site.) (are prisons for punishment or rehabilitation?)

*these last 4 above can all be located on Netflix and viewed with a basic streaming subscription, but they may also be available on other streaming platforms.

How to Complete this Essay

You will complete this essay in stages, using the drafting and revision process covered in the first week of class. Use the feedback you receive along the way to revise your evaluation of the text. Revision is essential to completing complex writing assignments.

Prewriting: Practice using the vocabulary of rhetorical analysis and looking for rhetorical appeals in a discussion with other students. Then, select your focus text (from the list provided) and complete the topic selection activity.

Drafting and Revision:

  • Organize your ideas into a first draft of your evaluation of the text using the design grid.
  • Expand these ideas into paragraphs, completing a full draft of this essay. This draft should include all of the key components of the assignment, including an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement (your overall evaluation of the effectiveness of the argument), paragraphs that support and explain this thesis, and a conclusion that clarifies the benefit of this analysis to the reader.
  • Obtain a professional review of your essay from Smarthinking. Use this feedback to guide deeper revisions of paragraph structure and sentence structure.

Submit the Final Essay: Verify that your essay meets the required length, is formatted per MLA and contains proper citations for the examples included. You are ready to submit the essay to be graded.

Helpful Hints:

  • Authors don’t use logos, ethos, and pathos. These terms are strategies of appeals that authors make to an audience.
  • Use your critical evaluation points to structure the essay not the order of the text.
  • Avoid the use of first person (I, me, my). Phrases such as “In my opinion” is not needed because it is your paper; therefore, it is implied that you believe it.
  • Avoid the use of the second person (you, your). Instead, use nouns, such as “viewers” or “readers.”
  • Describe specific examples of strategies and how they work, giving careful consideration to the intended audience.

A suggested organizational structure for this essay:

Introduction (at least one paragraph)

  • Create a lead-in “hook” to engage your readers’ interest (e.g., a striking quotation or statistic, an anecdote or scenario, a related current event).
  • Introduce and describe the text and its rhetorical context.
  • Present your thesis statement—your evaluative claim about the text’s effectiveness and use of rhetorical strategies.

Body (at least three paragraphs)

  • Support your thesis by providing interpretation, analysis, and evaluation of the rhetorical strategies, making sure to support your analysis with concrete evidence from the text (i.e. paraphrase and quotations)
  • Use an effective structure that guides the reader from one idea to the next (paying attention to transitions both between paragraphs and within)

Conclusion (at least one paragraph)

  • Restate your position/thesis – use different words.
  • Explain what the analysis presented in this essay reveals about the text (i.e. why your analysis is important; what it teaches the audience about the text’s rhetoric)
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