Rhetorical Situation of an Essay

Rhetorical Situation of an Essay

Assignment: Writing the Persuasive Argument (Letter from Birmingham Jail)

Assignment: Writing the Persuasive Argument (Letter from Birmingham Jail)

Rhetorical Situation of an Essay


The purpose of this assignment is to

• Analyze the rhetorical situation and how the author makes an appeal to one or more of the rhetorical appeals.

• Analyze the use of visual elements (charts, images, if applicable) to enhance the effectiveness of a given artifact.

• Articulate and develop a critical and analytical perspective in writing

• Develop strategies for critically engaging information and develop it in writing as evidence for arguments


No matter which type of rhetorical analysis you choose, you should, at a minimum, address the following:

• Author:

Who is the author?

• Purpose:

What is the author trying to accomplish? – Why did the author feel the need to write the text?

• Genre:

What type of writing is the text?

• Strategies:

How did the author write the text?

Does the author follow prescribed methodologies?

Does the author deviate from the norm?

• Effectiveness?

Is the author rhetorically effective?

Does the text ‘move’ you?

Does the text convincingly get you to think critically/differently about the topic/subject matter?

Rhetorical Situation

If you choose this type of rhetorical analysis, you should answer the following questions and discuss how / why you know you are correct.

• Audience/Relationship to the Reader:

To whom is the text addressed?

What is the relationship between the author and his or her audience?

• Context:

What are influencing factors surrounding the event of the text?

What was happening, historically, when this piece was written?

How / why does that matter?

• Where/When (date) was the text written?

How does that matter to the meaning of the text?

• Voice:

What is the overall tone of the text?

How might this impact the intended audience?