Martin Luther king Jr ” I had a Dream speech”

Rhetorical Analysis

Assignment Description

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Martin Luther King “I have a Dream”

Content: The student will read four political speeches and then choose one to analyze. The essay will explore various Modes of Persuasion found within the selected speech. The Claim will be that the speech is successful in its persuasion. The student must then support this Thesis by identifying the specific Rhetorical Appeals of Pathos, Ethos, and Logos as the Major Points of the Controlling Idea.

Purpose: The purpose of this kind of writing is to compose a formal academic essay that expresses the qualities associated with a rhetorical analysis in order to determine how a writer convinces an audience to accept a particular viewpoint that is being advocated. This is not an argument for or against this viewpoint. Instead, it is to show how the speech itself is successful in its persuasive through incorporating the Rhetorical Proofs of Pathos, Ethos, and Logos. The purpose of this assignment is for the student to learn how to identify these Modes of Persuasion in other writing, so that they can then utilize these same techniques in their own argumentative papers in the future.

Goals: The assignment project meets the following outcomes for this course:

understand and apply drafting, revision, and editing strategies
effectively employ the specific features of a given assignment
identify, evaluate, and analyze specific Modes of Persuasion
integrate academic sources effectively for support
emphasis on critical thinking, structurally unified development of ideas, appropriate style, and correct use of Standard American Academic English

Features: The form of this genre are academic and formal. The first person “I” and second person “you” will not be used in this essay – only the third person point-of-view. While there are no strictly right answers, the interpretation will need to support how the writer of the speech is using language in a persuasive manner by quoting from various texts and citing correctly in MLA documentation style. This particular essay must include at least two (academic) outside sources, in addition to the primary source (speech itself). The essay will contain several sections. This means that it will go well beyond the basic five paragraph essay format, which is too limited for this kind of analysis. However, the essay must still be organized in a logical order, with smooth transitions from one point to the next, and the development should be rich with explanation.

Evaluation: 20% of the course grade is devoted to the Final Draft of this project.

The essay will be graded based upon Rubric components provided.

Parameters: 1000 words (approx. 4 pgs.)

MLA style formatting

[At least] two secondary sources with proper citations

The goal of the Rhetorical Analysis essay is to be able to identify certain Modes of Persuasion, also known as rhetorical appeals (or rhetorical proofs), in another text so that you can learn to use them in your own argumentative writing in the future. Because of this, the emphasis is on analyzing one of these four political speeches (your choice) and explaining where the author uses Logos, Ethos, and Pathos to successfully influence their audience.

Everyone’s Thesis Statement should be similar in this respect. Your claim is not going to be whether the speech is successful in its persuasion. This is because all of these speeches have stood the test of time and are already proven to be highly persuasive. Therefore, your claim will be how the author accomplishes this. In other words, the speech is indeed successful in its persuasion because of the use of certain rhetorical appeals used in it. The major points of the controlling idea will be the three rhetorical proofs themselves. Of course I want you all to use your own words, but everyone’s Thesis Statement in the introduction should include something similar to this:

“The speech, (whichever one you choose), by (whoever gave the speech) is highly successfully in its influence on the audience [Claim]. This is due primarily to the author’s use of specific modes of persuasion [Controlling Idea]. The most effective of these argumentative strategies are the rhetorical appeals of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos [Major Points of Case].”

The task of your paper (support) will be to go through the speech several times, and pick out where the author uses each of these three modes of persuasion to intentionally influence the audience. The first section will contain examples of where the speech utilizes Logos (persuasion through facts and statistical data). The second section will include examples of where the speech uses Ethos (persuasion through authority and credibility). The third section will consist of examples where the speech incorporates Pathos (persuasion through emotions or sentiment). Your Conclusion will signal the essay’s end (i.e. “In conclusion, ….”), then restate the Thesis, and finally offer a ‘Look to the Future.’

We will discuss this process further in the days to come. Be sure you have studied all the files in the Rhetorical Analysis folder (alternative Text Reading; Assignment Description; PowerPoint; Reading Quiz; etc.) before you attempt to begin your Thesis Statement. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you may contact me through the mail system here on Blackboard or attend the Virtual Office Hours dedicated to this class.

Introduction – The first sentence or two should address the topic. You need to mention the speech and the person who gave it first of all. The next few supporting sentences should address the purpose. Here you will tell how the art of persuasion is used to influence an audience in general and how political speeches in specific intentionally rely on persuasion to sway public opinion. This will set you up for your Thesis statement. For this particular genre, everyone’s Thesis should be similar: e.g. This speech is highly successful in its influence due to certain modes of persuasion. [Claim] The most effective of these tools are the rhetorical appeals of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos. [Major Points of Case]

Definition of Terms – Next you need a brief paragraph that tells what each of those three proof actually mean. You should mention Aristotle, and then explain the definitions of Logos (reasoning), Ethos (authority), and Pathos (emotion). Just a sentence or so for each one is enough.

Historical Context – After that you will need another short paragraph that discusses the background of both the speech-giver and the speech itself. (e.g. “George Bush was born in Houston. He served four terms as governor of Texas. His father was president before him. He himself was also president at the time of the Twin Tower attacks by terrorists.”)

Analysis of Major Points – The body sections of the essay are where you will give examples of how the speech utilizes each respective proof to persuade the audience. There should be a section on Logos, a section on Ethos, and a section on Pathos. They should appear in the same order as they are listed in the thesis. A section consists of however many paragraphs you need to successfully introduce the appeal, support the appeal with evidence, and smoothly transition to the next section. The evidence for support of each major point will come from examples (quotes or paraphrases) in the primary text (speech itself) that show how the speech-giver used that specific proof to persuade. You must also include at least two secondary (academic) outside sources that somehow support something in your essay somewhere. No websites are allowed for academic research. You are to use journal articles only.

Conclusion – Always signal your conclusion (e.g. “In conclusion, ….”). Then re-state your original Thesis (in different words). Lastly, you must provide some kind of ‘look to the future’ as the final sentences. (e.g. “This speech was highly persuasive at the time it was given, it remains influential to contemporary audiences, and it will serve as inspiration for generations to come.”)

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