“Black History Month?” by Hanna Guthrie

Students will read the following essay and perform a rhetorical analysis over it. This means students will describe the manner in which the author uses (or fails to use) logos, pathos, and ethos in making his or her argument. Be sure to read the entire prompt to avoid making needless errors on the assignment. You will be writing with a purpose outlined in the prompt.

“Black History Month?” by Hanna Guthrie

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The essay should be a minimum of 3 pages in length and analyze the article based on the following criteria:

Logos: Pre-writing exercise: Identify and annotate the following parts of the argument presented in the argument.

  1. Students should identify the primary claim (thesis claim) of the article, and describe whether or not the author has successfully supported the claim with evidence and reasoning (proof). Students should look for at least three reasons presented by the author as evidence their primary claim is true. If there are not three reasons, students should note this fact and explain how this undermines the primary claim.
  2. In addition to examining the thesis claim and the reasoning supporting the claim, students will identify any evidence that is provided to support the reasoning. Also known as “data” or “facts,” the evidence should be used by the author to directly support the reasons they give in order to try to persuade the reader to accept their position.
  3. In addition to identifying the primary claim and the reasons and evidence, students should examine any authorial failures in the use of logic. The use of logical fallacies should be noted by students with direct textual references (quotation of logically fallacious sentences).
  4. Finally, students should look for the author’s attempts to anticipate and address counterarguments or “rebuttals” to their primary claim and/or their reasoning. If the author does not address counterarguments, students should—in an objective and neutral tone—explain how this failure weakens the author’s over all position. Any counterarguments students can think of should be discussed in neutral, third person language. For example: “Jom Dodo fails to anticipate counterarguments such as…”

Pathos: Pre-writing exercise: Completely identify the examples you will present as evidence to support your case prior to writing paper and write them down as notes.

Students should address whether or not the author of the article they choose to examine is relying primarily upon emotional appeals, inflammatory language, hyperbole (exaggerated language), an insulting or condescending tone, or an overall hysterical effect. In other words, if the article is not facts (logos) based, the argument it presents is weak. Ad hominem/personal attacks, appeals to ridicule, appeals to pity, appeals to emotion, appeals to spite, etc. are all emotion-driven argument that is not believable to an educated person.

Ethos: Pre-writing exercise: Look up the author and determine credibility. Write notes about credentials, experience, reputation among peers. Don’t forget to consider how you will be received by your audience.

After examining the logos appeals and pathos appeals of the article, students should look at the author’s credibility. This requires students to look outside the primary text for information about the author. Students should determine if the author is an expert (or at least has a reputation for credibility) in the field they are writing about. Keep in mind that part of ethos is the manner in which an argument is made. A sloppy or non-facts-based argument—or an emotion-driven argument—undermines an author’s credibility.

Audience: The article you are reviewing is being considered for possible publication or re-publication in the magazine Logos MonthlyReaders of Logos Monthly are a sophisticated, logic-oriented audience that will not be swayed by emotionLogos Monthly is a magazine that examines argumentation in essays and its readers are well-known for their ability to analyze and understand the well-reasoned, scholarly arguments. Students should seek to produce an objective, neutral tone in their analysis. Students will make a recommendation for publication or rejection based upon the criteria above.

Student Thesis Statement: Students should craft a thesis statement that is both evaluative and analytical in nature. In other words, students should describe the essay they choose in terms of whether or not the rhetoric presented is convincing, based on logic, emotion, or reputation. Students should not write an essay that attacks the article or the author, or seeks to counter-argue the position presented. Students should maintain a neutral, objective, almost disinterested tone in evaluating their article.

The thesis model (Don’t Plagiarize) is: Jom Dodo’s article should not be published because it does not present a clear thesis claim or back a claim with facts or data, relies on emotional appeals, the author has no credibility, and the article will not give readers of Logos Monthly an entertaining argument.

Students may wish to break their thesis statement into two sentences, one that articulates a thesis claim, the other that articulates the proof to support the claim.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Students should present two sets of reason summaries in the first paragraph. The first set of reasons are those the author being analyzed presents to support his or her point. The second set are the reasons the student presents to support his or thesis claim (publish or don’t publish).

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