Analyzing a book and rhetorically analyzing it

Major Essay #1: Analyzing Evicted

Rhetoric 1030 | Fall 2020 | Brittany Borghi

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The Idea:

This semester, we will read, discuss, and analyze the nonfiction book Evicted by Matthew Desmond. In the book, Desmond narrates the lives of people living in the margins of American poverty: people with disabilities, people on fixed incomes, or otherwise low-income people who work hard and rent their homes. The book situates issues of poverty, racism, and classism in the stories of people who continually face eviction, and because of this work, Desmond went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the highest honor in American literature.

In our class, we will discuss the power and strength of Desmond’s argument using our rhetorical analysis skills.

The Task:

In this first major essay, you will choose a passage from Evicted and unpack the ways in which the passage works, rhetorically, and how it helps Desmond to reach his desired goal. You may choose more than one passage that helps to support your claim, connecting different parts of the book through their common function. Your goal here isn’t to tell me how the entire book works, but rather, to zoom in really closely on some carefully chosen sections to tell me how they work to “stick with a reader” and persuade them.

The Requirements:

Four to eight pages of analysis, plus a Works Cited page (your Works Cited page does not count toward your page count)
12-point Times New Roman font
One-inch margins
MLA formatting: standard MLA document heading, name and page numbers in the upper right hand corner, and MLA citations on your Works Cited page
An introduction that contextualizes your chosen section (or sections) in the book itself
A clear articulation of Desmond’s arguments and goals with Evicted, as a whole
A thesis statement that tells me how your chosen section works to support Desmond’s arguments and help him reach his goals
Focused body paragraphs that examine one rhetorical element found in your passage, carefully pulling apart the text and demonstrating how the sentences, ideas, story, characters, emotions, and logic work to connect the reader to Desmond’s larger arguments
Body paragraphs that make clear mini-claims about a part of the text, contextualize some evidence, present that evidence, discuss how the evidence connects to the mini-claim, and concludes by connecting your mini-claim to your larger thesis
(This is the CCECC format, which we will discuss and practice in class)
You don’t need to limit yourself to the “five-paragraph essay format.” You should have as many paragraphs as you need to make your case
A conclusion that summarizes your major points from your body paragraphs and tells me again what the rhetorical elements you found have to do with Desmond’s rhetorical goals in Evicted
Additional thought from you in the conclusion about what Desmond’s work does for the issue of poverty in America
Engaged, creative, thoughtful writing that demonstrates your voice, your ideas, and your personal perspective in an academic setting


The Grading:

I will be grading you on the fulfillment of the requirements above and on your ability to embrace the assignment and analyze the text with creativity, insight, and an application of the rhetorical tools learned in class.

Your essay will be graded out of a traditional 100 points.

Your rough draft and presence in workshop will be worth 10 of those points. So, if you don’t attend workshop and/or if you don’t have a rough draft present with you on that day, you will automatically lose 10 points. That means if I read your essay and give you a 90 on your writing, you will automatically be downgraded to an 80. If you attend/have a rough draft, you will earn your 90 (A-).

If you are having issues with the assignment, let me know ASAP. Don’t wait until workshop day to let me know you don’t have a rough draft.

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