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ENC 1101 - Prof. Geerling: Rhetorical Analysis Essay


Rhetorical Analysis Essay


Assignment Description:

The Rhetorical Analysis Essay will examine two texts linked by a common theme or subject from the textbook, Humor: A Reader for Writers. You will put the texts in conversation with each other and analyze their rhetorical effectiveness.

 Assignment Outcomes:

The Rhetorical Analysis Essay should demonstrate your ability to analyze rhetorical strategies , and an understanding of MLA format and citation.


You may choose from the following paired readings:


  1.  Hitchens’ “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” pgs. 174-81 and Finnigan’s “Kristen Wigg, Strange Doctor,” p. 181-8
  2.  Collins’ “Tension,” p. 196-7 and Schneiderman’s “Wester,” p. 214
  3.  Barthelme’s “In the Morning Post,” p. 198-9 and Shteyngart’s “Only Disconnect,” p. 215-8
  4.  Hitchens’ “Cheap Laughs,” p. 200-8 and Winstead’s “Sarah Silverman and Me,” p. 209-13


Write an essay in which you analyze these texts, putting them into conversation with each other and what you know about effective writing. Evaluate the way these authors go about their inquiry, and how effectively their texts achieve their purposes with their intended audiences. You should use quotations from these texts to back up your assertions about them. By the end of the essay, you should state definitively which text is more rhetorically effective and why.

What the Essay Should NOT Do: 

The Rhetorical Analysis Essay should not summarize the articles. Summary may be necessary in service to a point you are making, but essays that rely on summary will not be successful. Look at the component elements of the arguments presented and analyze their impact on the overall effectiveness.

Assignment Requirements:


  1.  Choose which pair of essays to use.
  2.  Essays should put the texts in conversation and analyze the rhetoric in each.
  3.  Quotes from the texts must be used to support your analytical points. Quotes must use correct MLA citation style.
  4. Essays must be formatted in correct MLA style.
  5.  Only the two texts should be used as sources. Do not consult other sources. The essay is between you and the two texts you select.
  6. A Works Cited page must be included, and it must be in correct MLA format.
  7. Essays should be approximately two to four pages long. Length does not include the Works Cited page.


  1. Do attend all classes and library sessions. We’ll be working on sections of the essay in class, so you will get the most support and have the clearest idea of what to do if you’re always present. 
  2. Get help early and often. You have the library resources, ASC, the writing lab, Pearson’s resources (on the left side of the MyLab page),, and me. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for help, but even last minute help is better than no help at all. Use your resources!
  3. Look ahead. Don’t let the draft deadlines sneak up on you. Set reminders on your phone or whatever else you need to do to make sure you have a draft ready for each deadline. Each draft has equal weight in the final grade. Participating in the full process is the best way to improve your writing and get the grade you want. 


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Judi Tidwell


Rhetorical Analysis Citations