English 101- Critical Analysis Essay

English 101- Critical Analysis Essay

English 101

Critical Analysis Essay


Purpose. This project requires you to analyze how an argument functions. It’s an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned over the course of the last few weeks about rhetoric. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about the ways in which writers (of all kinds of texts) try to persuade us. Analyzing the rhetorical functions of texts can strengthen your ability to evaluate academic sources, advertisements, information from news outlets, and even yard signs and bumper stickers.


Getting Started. You’ll want to begin by selecting one of the four articles listed below and reading it several times. To successfully understand the essay, you’ll want to engage the text using annotation, like we discussed in class. Ask questions of it. Respond to how it’s working. Write down what it makes you think of. Take note of how you think it is working. As you read, underline instances of pathos, logos, or ethos. Again, you’ll want to read it more than once or twice.


Next, it would be helpful to map out the structure of the text. What is said in the introduction? Which paragraphs contain background information? Which paragraphs/parts contain the author’s support for her claim? Then, you’ll want to summarize the work’s overall claim along with its main points. You’ll need to include this as part of your paper. You could try writing one sentence summaries of its most important paragraphs/parts.


You’ll want to think about the rhetorical situation that gave rise to this text. What prompted the writer to create this? What was it that she was hoping to achieve by its production? You should also be able to identify the genre of the piece as well. Why did the author think this would be a useful genre to answer the rhetorical situation?


Rhetorical Considerations:

While your essay should include some summary of what the writer has written, it’s focus needs to be how the author constructs an argument. Your essay should examine the author’s rhetorical stance—pathos, logos, and ethos. Effective essays will also consider the author’s purpose, the intended audience, the rhetorical situation, and the genre of the piece as well. Your argument should be centered around one central idea—whichever one you find most interesting—and this should be articulated in a thesis statement. Remember that your essay shouldn’t be one giant summary. Also, you’re not arguing for or against the writer’s position. You’re making a claim about how the writer makes her argument. What tools does she use? Are they effective? Why?


●       “You Are Not Special” commencement speech by David McCullough

●       “Facebook Live is Changing the World—but not in the way it hoped” by Alex Hern

●       “Nobel Lecture” by Kofi Annan (Moodle)

●       “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



Putting It Together: There are a number of different organizational strategies you might use to structure your paper, but keep in mind that your ultimate aim is to lead your reader through an organized discussion that focuses on a few main claims about the author and the author’s chosen rhetorical moves. You must also provide evidence to back up your claims, which in this context means specific examples from the text in the form of summary, paraphrase, and/or direct quotation. Your essay should be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font and double-spaced with standard one-inch margins. Your paper should be 3-4 pages, approximately 1000-1200 words. You will need to include a Works Cited page for the text you analyze.