Hacking Rhetoric

Analysis paper prompt


Your purpose in this 4-7 page essay (or equivalent by negotiation; see ‘Alternate Formats’ at bottom of page) is to closely analyze one position about hacking you’ve discovered in your research. You’ll do this through the careful (textual and contextual) analysis of a single text advocating a position. For our purposes, a “text” can be loosely defined as any persuasive effort that can be interpreted.  A “text” may be a print article (such as an opinion column in a newspaper), but it may also be a blog entry, a video, a commercial, an image, a web page, a speech, a performance, an event or a hack.  Regardless of the format, you should select a text that makes a clear argument–a text that very clearly asks the audience to believe, feel, or do something.

Key Dates

November 4 (Mon)                   Peer review of completed, polished draft

November 6 (Wed)                   Analysis paper version 1 due (revised based on peer feedback)

November 11 (Mon)                 Conference day

November 13 (Wed)               Analysis paper version 2 (revised based on instructor feedback)


In this essay, you must accomplish a few goals.  Your primary task is to analyze the text’s argument.  Introduce the text you’ll be analyzing. Tell us, What is the argument? Who put this argument together? Where did the argument appear? Tell us about the audience: Who is likely to read, see, watch or otherwise consume this text? And tell us how the argument relates to hacking. You should briefly summarize what the text says, noting the central claims and key evidence. Nonetheless, the majority of your paper should be devoted to analyzing how the argument is put together as well as why the author(s) may have made specific rhetorical choices. You’ll want to discern and describe, for example:

  • the intended audience
  • the cultural context in which the text was written (the larger conversation to which this text contributes)
  • where the text was published, seen, viewed, etc.
  • the reasons offered in support of the advocated position
  • any appeals to the audience’s emotions or to the author’s credibility
  • common rhetorical figures (metaphors, metonymy, synecdoche, etc.) utilized in making the persuasive case
  • what’s at stake in this argument (what is to be gained or lost in it?)

Minimum Requirements

  • Be 4-7 pages long, typed, double-spaced; have 1-inch margins and name, class, date at the top left corner of the first page with title centered two lines below the date
  • Analyze the text’s rhetoric with particular attention to specific elements (style, appeals, arrangement, etc.) and their relation to the audience, the context, and the controversy #
  • Strategically and effectively incorporate at least 1 credible source (in addition to the text analyzed)
  • Document all sources accurately (in-text and on a Works Cited page) according to MLA or APA style guides #
  • Be composed effectively and coherently#, with very few punctuation or grammatical errors
  • Have been peer reviewed at the in-class workshop #
  • Be turned in on time and be accompanied by all previous drafts, pre-writing exercises, and written peer reviews #

Alternate formats

This assignment prompt lays out expectations for a traditional college-style essay. However, you are not required to produce a traditional college-style essay for this assignment. On this Analysis Paper and your Final Paper, you are able to choose any format or genre you want, with a couple of provisos:

First, if you wish to make your assignment something other than a traditional essay (for example, a blog post, video, website, policy document, art project, piece of fiction, song or speech; the sky’s the limit), you must meet with Beck a minimum of one week before version 1 is due to present your proposal. This should outline your planned assignment, how it relates to the goals of this paper (to analyse the arguments a text makes), your plans to succeed with it and how it is an equivalent amount of work to a 4-7 page persuasive essay. In addition, come prepared to discuss assessment criteria for your assignment.

Second, if you are undertaking an alternate assignment, you will agree on criteria for assessment with Beck as some of the criteria above will be inappropriate for certain forms. However, items marked with a # are mandatory. Do not propose an alternate assignment that cannot meet these criteria.