For this week’s discussion, I would like you to rhetorically analyze any speech from the list that is provided here:
The purpose of a rhetorical analysis of any text is to focus not only on what the speaker is arguing but also on the techniques used to persuade the listener/reader of whatever point the speaker is making. As we discussed last week, persuasion is not the same as argument: the goal of persuasion is to convince the listener of whatever position one believes in while argument requires that we follow a specific structure (we’ll discuss the structure of an argument in a couple of weeks).
Here are the questions I would like you to answer regarding the speech you have chosen:
1) Who is the speaker? Does he or she have some social or political status? (ethos)
2) Who is the audience for the speech?
3) How is the speech organized? For example, some speakers may start with a problem and then analyze the causes and consequences of the problem. Others may use their personal experience in order to talk about a larger social issue. So, for organization, focus on how the speech is structured just as you may outline your paper.
4) What are three rhetorical strategies used in the speech? Make sure to provide specific evidence for the strategies used. Here is an example of a particular rhetorical strategy:
My opponent believes that we should allow people to simply walk across the US border without showing any documentation of their legal status.
This is an example of hyperbole, and exaggeration of the opposing viewpoint in order to make the opponent look naïve.
5) What is the effect of the three strategies you have chosen on you? Do the strategies make it more likely for you to accept whatever the writer is trying to persuade you of?
6) What is the story the writer is telling in his or her speech? I certainly don’t mean by story what do you typically think of a story in the traditional sense, but anyone who tries to persuade us to support a cause or to buy a product is in some fundamental way telling us a story which may we may either accept or reject regardless of whether or not there is evidence to support that story.
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