assignment 1-3: rhetorical analysis of an advertisement

Due: Friday September 15
Format: Please post this assignment on the Ning forum entitled “English 101: Rhetorical Analysis of an Advertisement.” Also please bring a printed (hard) copy so we can work with the assignment in class on Friday. See the bottom of this post for instructions on how to post your assignment to the Ning if you need help.

Introduction: This assignment builds on what you have been reading about rhetorical analysis by asking you to practice this type of analysis in a short essay. Earlier this week, you worked on a rhetorical analysis of a space, asking how the space shaped or influenced how occupants would think, feel, or behave. In this assignment, you will ask similar questions about one magazine advertisement.

Guidelines: Write a short (1.5 – 2 pgs) essay in which you analyze an advertisement rhetorically. To prepare for the assignment, we will do the following in class (see handout):

  • Suspend judgment
  • Create a “notice and focus” list about the advertisement
  • Find any patterns of repetition and contrast
  • Find any anomalies—things that seem unusual, that seem not to fit the pattern

Once we have completed these steps, you will be ready to move from “composing to learn” TO “composing to communicate.” Your purpose in writing is to interpret the ad and inform your readers about the ad’s implications or underlying message. Your essay should include these elements:

  • A summary of the ad for readers who have not seen it
  • The ad’s target audience
  • The purpose of the ad
  • Strategies the ad uses to reach the audience
  • Specific evidence to support your claims
  • A thesis statement

These elements do not have to be in this order, nor do they have to be in separate paragraphs. For example, you may take a single paragraph to develop a sense of the ad’s purpose and target audience, since these are so closely related.

Structure your essay as a response to these questions if you need help getting started:

  • Who is the target audience, and how do you know? What did you notice in the ad that would help you identify the intended audience? (see questions for audience analysis handed out in class)
  • How is this audience being invited to respond? What does the ad hope the audience will think, feel, or do after seeing the ad?
  • What strategies is the ad adding using to achieve this purpose in a specific larger and/or immediate context?
  • Do you think those strategies would be effective, given the ad’s purpose, audience, and context? (the answer to this question may be the kernel of a good thesis statement.)

If you have typed your analysis in a Word document, you should first select the text of your analysis. Click “copy.” Then return to the Ning. In the main page, you will see a list of forums. Our forum is clearly labeled. Click the forum titled, “Rhetorical Analysis of an Advertisement.” Be sure you are replying to the correct topic for our class. Then, a text box appears. Click in the box, under “Reply to This.” Right-click “paste” to paste the contents of your analysis. Then click “add reply” below the text box.