Midterm Portfolio

Published 30th Mar 2014


This semester in my ENGL 1010 class, we were assigned to write about a topic of substance that has affected us in some way. I have chosen to write about homelessness because I spent my early twenties in and out of homelessness, and it is something I feel very passionately about to this day. Our most recent assignment was to rhetorically analyze a piece of writing or a visual with a message relating to our semester topic. The piece I chose was an advertisement entitled Plant. This page serves as a sample of the work we are doing in class as well as a process-based exercise in drafting and revision, and over the next few paragraphs I will guide you along as I revise my rhetorical analysis.

What is Rhetorical Analysis?

Rhetoric is the study and practice of using language and symbols to communicate ideas and experiences most effectively. Its goal is to persuade, entertain, or inform others. The study of rhetoric, by this definition, has a long history beginning over 2,500 years ago in Greece (Nordquist). A rhetorical analysis is an essay that takes a piece of writing, or in this case a visual, and deconstructs it, breaking it down into parts, and then explaining how the parts work together to create the desired effect when viewed, again to persuade, entertain, or inform the piece’s intended audience. A rhetorical analysis is not a response to the piece. It merely describes how the author makes their argument and whether or not their approach is successful.

My Rhetorical Analysis

In my rhetorical analysis, I chose to focus most of my attention to the advertisement itself. My thesis, “Given the campaign’s message, this essay will dissect “Plant” and explore Raising the Roof and Burnett’s purpose in designing and publishing the ad, the significance of the ad to their campaign, and to whom the ad was targeted,” I believed was comprehensive enough to cover all the bases and hit on everything a rhetorical analysis consists of. I isolated a few examples of the rhetorical techniques used in the ad in order to further developer the ideas in my thesis. I think I did pretty well describing the context in which this ad was created and the direction they were headed with it in my opening paragraph, beginning with the opening sentence, “In 2011, Raising the Roof, a Canadian non-profit foundation advocating long-term solutions to homelessness, and Leo Burnett Toronto, an advertising agency which provided their services pro bono to Raising the Roof, designed a print ad entitled “Plant” to educate and raise awareness about homeless youth and their potential.” I also tried to end the paper with a conclusion that didn’t leave the reader hanging. However, as my professor pointed out, my essay lacked definition when it came to describing the techniques used, the audience this ad was directed at, and was missing one of the defining characteristics of academic writing: topic sentences.

My Revision plan

The first draft of my rhetorical summary lacked easily identifiable audience and ethos paragraphs. Because the primary audience for this assignment is my English professor, these sections needed to be more clearly defined per the genre conventions of a rhetorical summary. While I didn’t give the ethos section a topic sentence per se, I did rearrange the ethos paragraph to transition from the quoted question, “ . . . why is it that when people spot a plant in need they feel compelled to help and when they see a homeless kid in need, they pretend to not even notice?” into what I believe the ethos of the piece rested on. Additional research was needed as a basis for the ethos portion to lend credibility to my assertions and that paragraph was greatly expanded to provide more depth. This research came mostly from a journal article entitled “The Impact of the Label "Homeless" on Attitudes Toward Poor Persons” published in Social Psychology Quarterly which I have also cited.

I gave the audience section a more defined topic sentence when I wrote, “Raising the Roof sought to send their message across Canada by publishing a full series of advertisements across a variety of media, “Plant” could be found published in Canadian magazines, bus stop posters, and on major social media websites (Raising the Roof).” I think this does a better job of what I had written previously which was a little vague and was not as strong of a transition. I also rearranged and otherwise rewrote some awkward sentence structures to make them more pleasant, and finally, I moved the bibliography to a separate page per MLA format conventions.

Original draft

Final Draft