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Rhetorical Analysis

From the University of Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (

“The goal of any rhetorical analysis is to demonstrate your understanding of how the piece communicates its messages and meanings. One way of looking at this process is that you are breaking the piece down into parts. By understanding how the different parts work, you can offer insights as to the overall persuasive strategies of the piece. Often you are not looking to place a value judgment on the piece, and if there is an implicit or implied argument you may not be ultimately taking a side.”

The following are a list of helpful resources (both online and print) to help you get started on writing a rhetorical analysis.

Handouts (from the Writing Studio webpage)



Aaron, Jane. The Little Brown Compact Handbook. Boston: Pearson, 2012 (Eighth Edition)

  • The following sections/pages are useful for writing a rhetorical analysis
    • Chapter 9 Critical Thinking and Reading (pgs 79-93)
    • Chapter 10 Academic Writing (pgs 93-104): especially section on responding to a text
    • Chapter 11 Argument (pgs. 104-120): Look at information on appeals, fallacies, and organizing an argument
    • Chapter 51 Finding Sources (pgs. 367-386): can help you find possible texts to use for an analysis
    • Chapter 56 Reading and Writing about Literature (pgs. 427-436): look at section on writing a literary analysis, as this genre is related in many ways to a rhetorical analysis

Faigley, Lester and Jack Selzer. A Little Argument. Boston: Longman, 2010. (Chapter 2 deals in great detail with rhetorical analysis)

Faigley, Lester. Writing: A Guide for College and Beyond. Boston: Pearson, 2012. (pgs. 224 and 225 deal with rhetorical analysis)

Lunsford, Andrea and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s an Argument. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s 2010. (Chapter 5 deals with rhetorical analysis)

Roen, Duane, Gregory R. Glau and Barry M. Maid. The McGraw Hill Guide: Writing for College, Writing for Life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010 (pgs. 20-23 offers information on rhetorical analysis)

Ruszkiewicz, John J. and Jay Dolmage. How to Write Anything: A Guide and Reference. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010 (Chapter 8 focuses on rhetorical analysis)

Last Updated: 3/23/15