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Rhetorical Analysis Response - Rilling

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During the first two weeks of this course, we have begun looking at ways to rhetorically analyze different texts. We have discussed and read about audience and purpose on the Web, and we have begun looking at the ways that different authors craft text to suit audience(s) and purpose(s).

For example, Hardison has pointed out that Darwin used a variety of techniques to create poetic language, which made his writing accessible to both scientists and humanists. One poetic technique was the use of 'flowery' adjectives, such as "exquisite" or "beautiful." Halliday showed how the new/old information presented in Darwin's final two paragraphs of Origin of the Species helped to make the new theory acceptable to his contemporaries by grounding it within what was already accepted as truth.

Hardison pointed to Darwin's use (or lack thereof) of citations to give credit to other researchers, and in our own investigations of Watson and Crick we, too, found that citations showed the researcher's deference to some researchers and total dismissal of other previous models. Halloran also points to Watson and Crick's use of references in his rhetorical analysis of their "A Structure for DNA." For example, Halloran analyzes the cross-textual citations within the three articles published together in Nature and he shows how Watson and Crick used passive voice in order to avoid citing the work of Chargaff.

In a short (2 - 3 page, 12 point, doubled-spaced) essay, explore the application of rhetorical analysis to different texts.

You can approach this task in a number of ways. You might work from the texts we've read to show how rhetorical analysis can make us better understand what choices a writer has made in developing an argument/putting forth a theory. You might describe your own experiences (or lack thereof) with rhetorical analysis--for example, have you considered language choice in building arguments/putting forth theories? You could actually conduct a mini-rhetorical analysis of one of the texts we've read (especially Hardison or Halloran).

Feel free to take a direction in your writing that sparked your interest from the readings/class discussions. Remember, you are writing the essay for an academic audience (an instructor in the humanities), who will be looking both at formal features of your text (e.g., spelling) as well as issues related to your theme including development of an argument/thesis.

Due date: Feb. 1, 2000