Steven Pinker – Mind Over Mass Media

This paper is designed to prepare you for the required Departmental Exam. Now that you’ve written your own argument paper, you must analyze an author’s rhetorical methods and effectiveness. This paper also follows MLA style and citation.

Read one of these selected persuasive essays from The Norton Sampler and write a 650-700-word analysis of the essay’s main ideas and persuasive strategies. Essays to choose from: Posnanski 584 (sports), Horton 211 (remembering veterans), or Pinker 559 (technology’s influence). Your essay must demonstrate critical thinking and be written coherently, observing grammatical, mechanical, and stylistic conventions. Your essay must include unified paragraphs on each of the following:

Part one: Summary (one paragraph): Identify the author and the title of the essay, and then provide a brief summary of the essay’s key ideas. What are the author’s primary and secondary argumentative claims? Conclude with your own thesis, which may be written as one or more sentences. Underline your thesis statement, just to make it clear.

Your thesis will have two parts. Seriously, don’t forget–two parts!
1. A statement of the essay’s main point/claim
2. A statement of the essay’s effectiveness as a persuasive essay

Part two: Analysis (more than one paragraph): Discuss how the author supports his or her argumentative claims through any of the rhetorical appeals. Actually use the words logic, emotion and credibility. Summarize, paraphrase, and directly quote parts of the text as you analyze how and why the author makes his/her case. Cite page numbers as you refer to text.
You can discuss these appeals:
Appeal based on logic (logos)–Discuss the essay’s reasoning process. Identify the types of evidence presented in support of the author’s claims, and give examples from the text. (These might be the author’s personal experiences, facts and statistics, expert testimony, anecdotal evidence, history or current events, etc.)
Appeal based on emotion (pathos)–Discuss how the essay appeals to readers’ feelings, including needs, fears, beliefs/values, and sympathies. Use evidence from the text.
Appeal based on the author’s credibility/character (ethos)–Consider his/her word choice, credentials, experience, selection of evidence, presentation of opposing viewpoints, etc. How and why is this person trustworthy?

Part three: Evaluation: After your analysis, evaluate in detail the strengths and weaknesses of the essay as a persuasive argument aimed at a specific audience as well as you. This is where you say how the essay succeeds or fails, so it’s your time to judge the writing. In judging the effectiveness of the essay, be sure to discuss the reasonable arguments, the emotional appeals, and the author’s credibility. Sometimes the analysis and evaluation will blend together in paragraphs. If it makes sense, that’s fine. This evaluation should support what you stated in your thesis in the introduction. By the time you reach the end of your evaluation, you’ll have supported your thesis.

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