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Writing Project #1:

Rhetorical Analysis


In English 108, we will be working with arguments in different contexts. Before making our own arguments, it is important to be able to analyze and respond to the arguments of others, regardless of your own viewpoint. This not only means understanding how arguments work, but that even a seemingly strong argument can be weakened through the use of weak logic or the lack of support.

Assignment Description:

For this project, you will choose one (1) TED Talk, from a short list at the end of this document that takes a position on an issue. You cannot write on another topic without prior permission from the instructor.

In an essay, you will:

•Analyze the talk’s rhetorical situation (purpose, audience, stance),

•Interpret the argument’s rhetorical devices (ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos), and

•Evaluate the talk’s overall rhetorical effectiveness.

•Utilize MLA 8th Edition for assignment formatting and in-text citing

What to Do/Not to Do:

Your goal for this paper is to analyze the TED Talk’s argument, not to engage in it. At no point in the paper should you be arguing back or agreeing to the speaker’s claims. Your paper should focus on discussing how the talk makes an effective or ineffective argument. To do this, you need to address all four rhetorical appeals—ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos—in your analysis. Your paper should focus on analyzing the TED Talk’s argument, and not just describing it to your reader. Your analysis should be your own as well, and as such you should use your outside sources to support your claims about the talk, not to make them.

Assignment Goals:

Identify and evaluate key rhetorical strategies in writing such asethos, logos, pathos, and kairos

-Express a working knowledge of key rhetorical features, such as audience, situation, and the use of appropriate argument strategies

-Practice evaluating the validity of information (outside sources)used as support

-Show an awareness of how arguments are targeted toward specific audiences

Source Requirement

Your TED Talk must be correctly cited. We will go over how to cite TED Talks in class—BOTH in-text and at the end of your essay. Additionally, in your discussion of ethos, you are required to consult at least one (1) additional source about the author and their background. As with the article itself, these sources must be correctly cited when you use them.


Your paper must be a minimum of 1200 words (max. 1400 words) excluding the MLA heading, title, and page numbers. Your paper should be in 12 point Times New Roman or Calibrifont. It should be double-spaced and have 1” margins on all sides. Your paper should use proper MLA 8th Edition documentation, including a Works Cited page and in-text citations. If you turn in an essay without both of these requirements, you will receive a zero for the assignment.

Grading Breakdown:

Bring Printed Article to Class on 2/4 & Close Reading Activity: 10%

First Draft (peer review day): 10%

Content & Organization: 50%

MLA Format/Works Cited & Citations: 20%

Grammar and Mechanics: 10%

Important Due Dates:

Bring your annotated editorial to class: Tuesday, February 4th(bring a printed copy to class)

Rough Draft/In-Class Peer Review: Tuesday, February 18th in class (bring printed copy to class)

Final Draft Due: Thursday, February 20th by midnight in Canvas dropbox

List of TED Talks to choose from (pick one):

“The Danger of a Single Story”


”Family, Hope, and Resilience on the Migrant Trail”


“The Case for Emotional Hygiene”


“The New American Dream”


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