History of Rhetoric                        Fall 2011


Project 1:  Rhetoric and Advertising

Option One:  Print Ad Revision

Purpose: Your goal in this assignment is to analyze an advertisement and describe how it works as an argument -- then alter the ad to change the argument it makes.  You'll basically take something like this and turn it into something like this, then describe what difference your changes make to the ad's message. 

Other examples of ad revisions:

Winston before and after

Absolut before and after

To build the analysis you will use the material in your reading and in the homework links to learn how arguments are crafted and how to read them critically and rhetorically, and you'll apply these questions to your ad.  Because advertisers spend huge amounts of money analyzing their audiences and refining their rhetorical techniques, it's good to study their work as you attempt to become a better persuader. In fact, Hugh Rank says "Analyzing ads is the easiest way to learn about all persuasion techniques."

Audience: The audience for this project is this class. The most relevant characteristics of this audience seem to be: we're adults, we have read the same things about rhetoric that you have, but we haven't examined the ad you're talking about closely.  We're a group that includes both genders.

Format: Approximately 750 words (3 typed pages). Your work should be proofread carefully before you turn in the final draft.

Grading Criteria: Specifically, I will pay attention to how:


* Your analysis picks out the main persuasive techniques of the ad. 

* The changes you make to the ad make a genuine difference to the ad's message, in a way that you carefully describe. 
* The thesis is supported with particulars (or evidence) from the ad.
* The warrant of the argument is tied to the material we have covered in class.
* The paper is organized -- it should be done in a way that makes it easy for a reader to move through the paper from beginning to end.




You'll need a collection of ads that strike you as problematic in some way; several 8.5 x 11 sheets of white paper or cardboard to use as a base; glue stick; scissors. 


You'll want to make a photocopy of your ad BEFORE you start changing it. 


You can cut your ad up, juxtapose it with text, add in other images -- anything that you think will make an effective critique of the ad.


You will NOT be graded on the basis of how artistically accomplished your new ad is, but on the basis of your changes making us think in a new way about the original ad. 


Option Two:  Rhetorical Analysis of a TV Commercial

Essentially, this option asks you to do the first part of the option above -- that is, thoroughly analyze the persuasive techniques of an advertisement -- but NOT to alter those techniques.  For this analysis, your artifact should be a TV commercial.  Make it one that is available on YouTube, so that we can all see what you're working with.