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Rhetorical Analysis Essay Exploratory Draft

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Instructions: Read the assignment in detail before proceeding. Once you have read and understood the questions, respond to each numbered question in detail and in complete sentences. There is no
specific word count for this assignment, but I will look for detail, thoughtful response, specificity and attention to the particular questions. The more effort you put into answering these
questions, the better off you will be for writing the rhetorical analysis essay.
1. Identify the text you will look at. This one’s easy, since everyone is writing on PKD’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
2. Context. What relevant details of your text’s context will enter your analysis? None is not a valid answer.
a. Think in terms of historical context:
i. What was going on politically, socially, etc. at the time of the book’s publication or the film’s release?
b. And cultural context:
i. Where does the text fit within the history of its genre?
3. Audience. What is the text’s audience? Be specific. “People who read” is not specific. Think in terms of demographics and psychographics. Think of what knowledge they must have to understand the
text, or what knowledge would enhance their appreciation of it. You must link the audience to the text somehow. Hint: Use PKD’s comments from his speech about his feelings about the United States
at the time.
4. Rhetorical focus. What rhetorical concepts will you use to construct your argument and guide your analysis? Tell me the major ones. In one sentence, explain what aspect of the text you will
examine using the rhetorical device.
a. You can write more than one sentence on a single rhetorical concept; that’s actually a good thing.
b. Minimum 4 sentences (but you will need more as you write your paper).
c. These should be specific and thus limited in scope – they are equivalent to topic sentences of paragraphs.
d. It is ok for one point, maybe two, to be based on your secondary source readings, but you will need a bunch of original analysis. If you’re using PKD’s ideas, make it clear. But your own voice
and ideas should really come through here. If a point was made in the reading, but not linked to evidence, and you think that you can ‘prove’ the point with evidence you have found, then that would
count as ‘original’.
f. For your rhetorical focus, you need to think in terms of genre conventions and how they get used and subverted by the rhetor (i.e., Philip K. Dick uses the science fiction convention of the
“robot other” by creating androids who are nearly identical to their human makers in order to foreground the danger of ideological humanism…) — and please put the emphasis on the “in order to”
part of your formulation. You also want to think in terms of rhetorical devices: that means themes, imagery, character, metaphor, plot, etc.
5. Specific scenes/passages. For each sentence, identify one piece of textual evidence you will examine. This could be a scene or a written passage. If the sentence does not make it clear, then
tell me which aspect of the scene you will be referencing. One scene might support several of your sentences from above (again, actually a good thing).
6. Sources. Identify at least one source you will use to assist you in your argument. Briefly state what point you want to use. This could come from the class readings. Or it could come from some
preliminary research.
7. First Attempt at a Thesis. Now go back over the information you have filled in for context, audience, rhetorical focus points, scenes, and sources. Do you see a coherent argument about the text
forming? Try to write a thesis – a sentence (sometimes two) that makes an argument – incorporating these aspects of your argument.
a. Keep in mind the characteristics of a good thesis (pp. 190-197 in the AGWR).
b. If you figure out, as you go along, that you’ve written four (topic) sentences that are too unrelated to go in the same paper, then try to find the best fit with 2 or 3 of them. You might not
end up using the ones you ignore, but they will count for credit for your proposal. At worst, they will have provided some practice for you so future brainstorming will be easier.
c. Your thesis MUST include the following: the name of the text, the name of the primary rhetor (PKD), one or two dominant rhetorical concepts, and an arguable specific conclusion (or two very
related conclusions) that extend directly from those concepts (and appear in or follow from your topic sentences).
d. Your thesis MIGHT include some detail/statement about how these concepts link back to the context or audience. One or both of these might be in your ‘arguable specific conclusion’.
e. Conclusions that are NOT acceptable as ‘arguable’ or ‘specific’ : the text is ‘true’, ‘funny’, or ‘relatable’.
f. Example. “In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, author Philip K. Dick uses the science fiction convention of the “robot other” by creating androids who are nearly identical to their human
makers in order to foreground the danger of ideological humanism in a Cold War era mired in xenophobic aggressions.”
i. Uses rhetorical concepts/devices: the use of a specific genre convention
ii. Context: the Cold War
iii. Text and primary rhetor: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
iv. Specific: “to foreground the danger of ideological humanism,” “creating androids who are nearly identical to their human makers,” etc.
v. Arguable: My emphasis on PKDs “foregrounding” of an ideological critique. Also, it connects the use of a specific device to a rhetorical purpose and an effect on the audience.

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