RHETORICAL CRITIQUE – 100 POINTS
In this assignment you will take on the role of rhetorical critic. The purpose of this critique is for you to demonstrate mastery of one of the methods of criticism we have discussed. You will choose a rhetorical artifact and fully apply one of the methods to it. You are going to create an argument that uses a particular method to interpret an artifact in support of a critical claim.
MINIMUM CRITERIA – FAILURE TO MEET THESE MAY RESULT IN AN AUTOMATIC “D” (60/100)
1. When discussing the method you must primarily reference the relevant assigned course texts. In other words, you may not rely on course texts from other classes.
2. You may NOT use or cite my lecture slides except for material on a method that is not covered by the course readings.
3. Your artifact must be appropriate for your assigned method. For example, a “hard news” story would be inappropriate for a neo-Aristotelian critique. If in doubt, ask.
You should write for an audience that is generally knowledgeable about communication criticism, but not conversant in your given method.
You are not required to conduct additional research on your method. However, in order to adequately do your analysis you will likely need to do outside research.
Any claims you make should be backed up by research using sources that are both reliable and appropriate for the claim being made. This standard may fluctuate depending on your method and claim. For example, if you are doing accurate interpretation you would not want to use a highly partisan political site to verify claims made by a politician in a speech. However, stories from this same site can be suitable as evidence in a narrative analysis. If in doubt, please ask.
At the top of your paper provide your critical claim. Make this a precise statement about what you will prove in your paper. This should be no more than two sentences.
INTRODUCTION (APPROX. 200-300 WORDS)
This section opens the essay and orients the reader to the rest of the argument.
1. Begin with an opening “hook” that draws in the reader
2. Provide a brief statement telling the reader what your artifact is and what method you will use
3. Articulate a clear and precise critical claim (thesis statement) that orients your argument (restated from previous section, may copy and paste)
4. Provide a brief description of the order of the paper (signposting).
ARTIFACT INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXTUALIZATION (300-600 WORDS)
In this section you will introduce your artifact.
1. Give a description of the artifact.
2. Contextualize the artifact within its social, cultural, and/or economic milieu. For example, box office and/or critical reception for films or the historical circumstances surrounding a speech. You will need outside sources here that verify any claims you make about the artifact.
METHOD EXPLICATION (900-1200 WORDS)
This section describes the method you will use to analyze your artifact. Your goal here is to demonstrate to me that you comprehend the key elements of the methods and can accurately identify, define and explain various concepts associated with the method.
1. Introduce the method by explaining its purpose.
For example: Neo-Aristotelian criticism is concerned with…
1. Identify and explain at least two presuppositions of the method that relate to your critique.
For example: Neo-Aristotelian critics assume…
2. Identify, define, and explicate those concepts from this method you will use in your critique.
For example: In this critique I will examine (name of artifact) by focusing on (concepts). Then explain the concepts.
NOTE: I expect that this section discusses the concepts that you will use in your analysis.
INTERPRETATION (1200-1500 WORDS)
In this section you will conduct your analysis of the artifact. Your goals here are is to correctly deploy the concepts you describe in your methods section to:
1. “Fix the meaning” of the artifact in a way that can deepen the audience’s understanding and appreciation of that artifact.
2. Clearly support and illuminate your critical claim.
3. Provide internal and/or external evidence that supports any claims you make. You may need to use outside research that supports your claims.
You should not forget that you are using a specific method of criticism – therefore you MUST use the vocabulary and concepts of that method, and use them correctly. However, this is more than “jargon dropping” – you need to explain and illustrate to your audience how these concepts work in your critique.
CONCLUSION (300-600 WORDS)
In this section you need comment on and explain the argument you made in the analysis. This is not simply a summary of what you wrote in the previous pages. You need to:
1. Tie your proofs from the previous section together into a coherent defense of your critical claim (thesis).
2. Explain the significance of your findings. This is your “so what” moment. It is also the place for you to most clearly state your insights into the artifact you just critiqued.
Cover page with:
APA citation style – I MEAN IT!
Typed, double spaced
1 Inch Margins
EXCELLENT (100-90 POINTS) – DEMONSTRATES SUPERIOR FAMILIARITY WITH THE MATERIAL
Well-defined, precise critical claim.
Identifies, defines, and explains key concepts in detail and accurately. Uses relevant examples.
Analysis consistently deploys and synthesizes key concepts/course material correctly.
Points are clearly articulated and supported with relevant evidence/examples.
GOOD (89-80 POINTS) – DEMONSTRATES GOOD FAMILIARITY WITH THE MATERIAL
Critical claim is broad or imprecise.
Identifies and defines key concepts, but may offer little explanation/example. Makes minor errors.
Analysis incorporates key concepts/course material into the overall argument but offers little explanation or synthesis. May make minor mistakes.
Points are not always developed and/or supported.
FAIR (79-70 POINTS) – DEMONSTRATES PASSING FAMILIARITY WITH MATERIAL
Vague critical claim that must be deciphered by the reader.
Identifies key concepts, but offers few definitions/explanations/examples. Minor to moderate errors.
Analysis inconsistently incorporates key concepts key concepts/course material into the argument, does not explain the relevance of the concepts used, and/or makes moderate mistakes when using concepts.
Points are hard to follow and/or often unsupported with relevant evidence.
MARGINAL (69-60 POINTS) – DEMONSTRATES LITTLE FAMILIARITY WITH MATERIAL
Weak critical claim that cannot structure the paper.
Inconsistently identifies keys concepts. Offers virtually no definitions/explanations/examples and/or makes serious mistakes.
Consistently fails to incorporate key concepts into the analysis and/or makes serious mistakes when using concepts.
Points are poorly articulated and/or consistently unsupported with relevant evidence/examples.
POOR (59 POINTS AND BELOW) – DEMONSTRATES NO CLEAR FAMILIARITY WITH THE MATERIAL
No discernible critical claim.
Incorrectly summarizes material and/or does not discuss course material.
No discernible analysis.
Arguments are generally incomprehensible with little or no evidence/examples.
Paragraph organization E G F M P
Proofreading E G F M P
APA citation style. E G F M P
Proper academic tone E G F M P
Paper properly formatted. Y N
EXAMPLES OF CONCEPT EXPLICATION
Part of your task in any academic writing is to demonstrate for your audience/reviewer that you know, understand, and can deploy concepts that are relevant for your analysis. The least this will do is 1) Guide and educate your audience; and 2) Demonstrate your mastery of the material to any evaluator.
Below are examples of how to demonstrate different levels of knowledge in your writing.
Identification (You have memorized the term)
A key concept in psychoanalysis is the Id.
Identification and definition (You have memorized the term and can accurately relate its meaning)
A key concept in psychoanalysis is the Id, which is the part of our consciousness that houses our sexual and violent instincts (Freud, 1989a, 1989b).
Identification, definition, and explanation (You have memorized the term, can accurately relate its meaning, and can describe how the concept works)
A key concept in psychoanalysis is the Id, which is the part of our consciousness that houses our sexual and violent instincts (Freud, 1989a, 1989b). In other words, according to psychoanalysis, the Id is that part of us that operates beneath our awareness, urging us to act in ways that will satisfy our desires.
Identification, definition, explanation, and application via example* (You have memorized the term, can accurately relate its meaning, can describe how the concept works, and can apply the concept)
A key concept in psychoanalysis is the Id, which is the part of our consciousness that houses our sexual and violent instincts (Freud, 1989a, 1989b). In other words, according to psychoanalysis, the Id is that part of us that operates beneath our awareness, urging us to act in ways that will satisfy our desires. For example, the sudden, intense anger we experience as “road rage” could be understood as the Id’s push to enact violence on someone we perceive has wronged us on the road.
*An example for each concept you introduce will not be necessary and may even prove cumbersome. An extremely effective example is one that covers several concepts. Done well this can demonstrate an understanding of how each concept functions and (more importantly) how they function together – See below.
Identification, definition, explanation, example, and synthesis via extended example (You have memorized the term, can accurately relate its meaning, can describe how the concept works, can apply the concept, and can use the concept with other related concepts in a meaningful way)
A key concept in psychoanalysis is the Id, which is the part of our consciousness that houses our sexual and violent instincts (Freud, 1989a, 1989b). In other words, according to psychoanalysis, the Id is that part of us that operates beneath our awareness, urging us to act in ways that will satisfy our desires. For example, the sudden, intense anger we experience as “road rage” could be understood as the Id’s push to enact violence on someone we perceive has wronged us on the road. However, as much as we would like to commit violence, for the most part we do not – the reality principle (the law promises negative consequences for losing one’s temper) provides support for the Super-Ego (fear of punishment) to intervene and repress the violent desire of the Id
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