For this essay, you will be performing rhetorical analysis of advertisements, either in the form of commericals or PSAs.
First, choose 2 visual or media examples that are related to one another, either in terms of message, topic (either a cultural value/aspect/issue or a product), and/or creator. These examples can be any kind of visual or media: a print/still advertisement, a commercial (video or audio), PSA, social media post, a billboard, political cartoons, etc. Feel free to mix and match media!
Some suggestions for these examples include:
Examples that are communicating a message on the same cultural issue (such as anti-smoking, drinking/texting and driving, domestic violence, politics, environmentalism, etc).
Examples that discuss the same cultural value (such as home ownership, career or financial success, the military, family values, patriotism, etc.), either reinforcing or challenging it.
Examples that are promoting a similar product (such as luxury or sport cars, trucks, make-up and other beauty products, food, clothing and accessories, etc.)
Examples that share the same creator and demonstrate a larger campaign for the brand, organization, or individual (such as Nike, Banksy, McDonald’s, or the CDC)
Examples that are similar in one of the above ways, but come from different time periods, allowing you to trace the evolution of these messages and how they’re communicated (such as looking at how cigarettes, families, men or women’s roles, or a brand itself like Nike are represented differently over time).
You can use any of the examples we’ve discussed so far in class or select ones of your choosing.
Using these examples, you will analyze not only what these media are communicating, but:
How does the creator use rhetorical appeals in order to express his/her message? (this should be the bulk of your essay–looking at how the media utilize ethos, logos, and pathos)
Who is the audience that this example intends to reach,
Who is the creator and what kind of reputation/connotations do they have?
Why is this media example created? What’s its purpose?
How does the creator reinforce the message through other rhetorical elements such as design and composition?
After analyzing each example, conclude your essay by discussing how these media compare to one another:
How are these examples, in terms of both message, composition, and other rhetorical aspects similar or different?
How effective are these media at achieving their purposes and communicating their messages?
How do these examples relate back to American culture? What kind of cultural values, issues, or behaviors are being reinforced or addressed in these examples?
As a viewer, what was your response to these examples? Are you a member of this intended audience?
Your argument for this essay will answer the following questions: What rhetorical appeals and techniques do these examples use to convey their messages? How effective are these creators at communicating their ideas on this topic? Are some more effective than others, and how? What larger cultural messages or values are being communicated (either challenged or reinforced) here?
When choosing your examples, you can pull from a variety of media types (i.e. examine a PSA and a political cartoon) or from the same kind of media type. You may choose to use examples that are from different time periods as well to show how this topic, creator, or product has changed (or stayed the same) over the years, or both can be contemporary.
To help ensure that your analysis is evidenced by a close reading of the selected media examples, you will only be allowed to use 2 outside secondary sources. You should have enough details from the examples themselves to pull from and analyze here, but outside sources may help with context or learning about the creator. As always with analysis, providing plenty of evidence from the argument itself is necessary in order to support your claims.
The final essay will be 3-4 pages long and in proper MLA format (12 point font, Times New Roman, double spaced, 1” margins on each side, page numbers and last name on each page). Your essay will also require a Works Cited page, and the examples you’re analyzing as well as any secondary sources used will need to be cited.