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Rhetorical Analysis

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Scientific studies produce specific and clear results, but popular culture uses those results to produce wildly varied interpretations, and to persuade their audience of a multitude of different positions. Your purpose in this 4-6 page essay (1200-1800 words) is to compare two articles that take different positions regarding a single aspect of vaccination use. Your goal is to understand what persuasive strategies the authors use to make their point. Your thesis should address the question: how are the persuasive strategies in these two articles similar or different, and why? Your essay should then answer this question by providing a close analysis of the two articles.


Choosing articles

You must choose two articles related to a single aspect of the vaccination debate. This could be MMR and Autism, but it could also be the development of an ebola vaccination, the obligatary chickenpox vaccine; etc. To be effective for this essay, your articles must take different positions on a single controversy. They should also both have at least one reference in common; in other words, they might both provide evidence from the same scientific study, or refer to the same new policy, or speech, or law. Finally, they should both be published in the past year.

Conducting the analysis

Before you begin writing, you are advised to conduct a rhetorical analysis using the following worksheets:

After you have conducted a thorough analysis, you will want to work through the comparison. What is similar about the rhetorical strategies? What is different?

Finally, you’ll want to develop a working thesis. Remember your thesis must be an argument that is worth arguing about. Why are the two articles using different strategies? What does that tell you about the nature of the controversy? About the audience?

Writing the essay

Your essay should begin with a strong introduction and thesis.

You should contextualize the articles by introducing the controversy and describing the position, author, publication context, and audience for the two articles. You will want to make sure that this description serves to support your thesis.

You should then look closely at three or more rhetorical aspects of the articles. You might focus, for example, on: style, emotional language, anecdotes, rhetorical figures (like metaphors, etc.), facts, citations, etc. For each aspect that you choose to analyze, first describe how it is used in the two texts. Then, analyze the effect of this use. Finally, offer a hypothesis about how and why the authors use different (or similar) strategies.

In your conclusion, you should summarize your analysis to explain how the text tries to persuade its audience and why it uses those strategies. In this section, you may offer an evaluation: do you consider these strategies effective? Why or why not?


Your essay will be evaluated on the following criteria (10 points each)

Minimum Requirements

To earn a C or above, your essay must meet these requirements:


Your paper must meet the following parameters, evaluated as shown below:

Proper Formatting:

Proper APA Citation: