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Genre Analysis & Reverse Outlining

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This vidcast explains two tools that writers can use as they revise their documents: genre analysis and reverse outlining. Genre analysis involves looking at model texts to gain an understanding of how a particular document might be composed. Reverse outlining helps writers look at their organization throughout a document by looking at what sections are doing as well as what they are saying. Several handouts provide additional explanation of both topics and explain how to create a database of sentence templates to do particular kinds of rhetorical work. 

Note:   Closed-captioning and a full  transcript  are available for this vidcast. 

Genre Analysis (PDF)

Genre analysis is a way of examining a type or style of writing in order to better understand the conventions, expectations, purpose, and target audience for that genre. This handout briefly outlines some steps for two approaches to genre analysis: (1) the global vs. local approach, which analyzes what a style of writing is doing on a large and small scale, and (2) the reverse outlining approach, which analyzes what a style of writing is both saying and doing at the paragraph level in relation to an overarching purpose. 

Questions for Genre Analysis (PDF)

This handout contains questions that are intended to help guide writers working with model texts. It is recommended for use in conjunction with the Genre Analysis (PDF) linked in the preceeding section. The questions range from global rhetorical concerns to sentence structure and voice. 

Organization & the CARS Model

This resource provides strategies for revising introductions. The CARS Model ensures that writers adequately put their research into a wider context, address what's missing in the surrounding scholarship in relation to the topic at hand, and explain how their writing seeks to address those gaps. 

Reverse Outlining

Reverse outlining is a strategy that helps writers distill main ideas into short, clear statements.This tool is especially helpful for refocusing an argument and the overall organization of a text. This resource explains the steps for creating a reverse outline so that writers are empowered to revise their own work. 

Creating a Database of Templates (PDF)

Scholarly writing features many sentences that follow a particular form, pattern, or template, such as when it indicates a gap in research or makes a counter-claim. This handout outlines how one can learn to write within a discipline by creating a database of template-sentences in their field. 

  • University Writing Center
  • The Writing Mine

How To: Genre Analysis

How To: Genre Analysis  

Although most of us think of music styles when we hear the word “genre,” the word simply means category of items that share the same characteristics, usually in the arts. In this context, however, we are talking about types of texts. Texts can be written, visual, or oral.  

For instance, a written genre would be blogs, such as this one, books, or news articles. A visual genre would be cartoons, videos, or posters. An oral genre would be podcasts, speeches, or songs. Each of these genres communicates differently because each genre has different rules.   

A genre analysis is an essay where you dissect texts to understand how they are working to communicate their message. This will help you understand that each genre has different requirements and limitations that we, as writers, must be aware of when using that genre to communicate.    

Sections of a genre analysis   

Like all other essays, a genre analysis has an introduction, body, and conclusion.  

In your introduction, you introduce the topic and the texts you’ll be analyzing.  

In your body, you do your analysis. This should be your longest section.  

In your conclusion, you do a short summary of everything you talked about and include any closing thoughts, such as whether you think the text accomplished its purpose and why.   

Content  

All professors ask for different things, so make sure to look at their instructions. These are some areas that will help you analyze your text and that you might want to touch base on in your essay (most professors ask for them):

1. Purpose of the text 

What did the creator of the text want to achieve with it? Why was the text created? Did something prompt the creator to make the text?  

Sometimes, the texts themselves answer these questions. Other times, we get that through clues like the language they use, the platforms the creator chose to spread their text, and so on. Make sure to include in your essay what features of the text led you to your answer.  

If we take this blog post as an example, we can say that its purpose is to inform students like you about what a genre analysis is and the content it requires. You probably figured this out through the language I’m using and the information I’m choosing to include.  

2. Intended audience 

Who is the creator of the text trying to reach? How did you figure that out?  

The audience can be as specific as a small group of people interested in a very niche topic or as broad as people curious about a common topic.   

With this blog, for example, I’m trying to reach students, particularly UTEP students who have this assignment and are trying to understand it. My causal and informative tone, as well as the fact that the blog is posted on UTEP’s Writing Center blog, probably gave this away.   

3. Structure 

How is the text organized? How does that help the creator achieve the text’s purpose?  

You need to know the information at the top of this blog post to understand what comes after, so this blog post is organized in order of complexity.   

4. Genre conventions 

Is the text following the usual characteristics of the genre? How is this helping or impeding the text to achieve its purpose?  

Like most blogs, this one is using simple language, short paragraphs, and illustrations. My use of all these elements is helping me be clear and specific so you can understand your assignment.  

5. Connection 

Do the ideas in the text come from somewhere else? Can the reader or consumer interact with the text? Is the text inviting that interaction?  

Most of the time, when the ideas come from another source, the text will make that clear by mentioning the text. In terms of interaction possible with the text, think about if it would be easy for you to say something back to the text.   

For instance, if you wanted to ask a question about this blog post, you could type it in our comment section. I might not explicitly say that many ideas in this blog come from the guidelines your professor gives you for this assignment, but you probably gathered that because I mention that these areas are things most professors are looking for.   

Hopefully, this information helps you tackle your assignment with a clearer idea of what your professor is looking for. Make sure to address any other areas the professor is asking you to.  

If you still have questions or want to make sure you are on the right path, come visit us at the University Writing Center.   

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Understanding What is Meant by the Word "Genre"

What do we mean by genre? This means a type of writing, i.e., an essay, a poem, a recipe, an email, a tweet. These are all different types (or categories) of writing, and each one has its own format, type of words, tone, and so on.  Analyzing a type of writing (or genre) is considered a genre analysis project. A genre analysis grants students the means to think critically about how a particular form of communication functions as well as a means to evaluate it.

Every genre (type of writing/writing style) has a set of conventions that allow that particular genre to be unique. These conventions include the following components:

  • Tone: tone of voice, i.e. serious, humorous, scholarly, informal.
  • Diction : word usage - formal or informal, i.e. “disoriented” (formal) versus “spaced out” (informal or colloquial).
  •   Content : what is being discussed/demonstrated in the piece? What information is included or needs to be included?
  •   Style / Format (the way it looks): long or short sentences? Bulleted list? Paragraphs? Short-hand? Abbreviations? Does punctuation and grammar matter? How detailed do you need to be? Single-spaced or double-spaced? Can pictures / should pictures be included? How long does it need to be / should be? What kind of organizational requirements are there?
  •   Expected Medium of Genre : where does the genre appear? Where is it created? i.e. can be it be online (digital) or does it need to be in print (computer paper, magazine, etc)? Where does this genre occur? i.e. flyers (mostly) occur in the hallways of our school, and letters of recommendation (mostly) occur in professors’ offices.
  • Genre creates an expectation in the minds of its audience and may fail or succeed depending on if that expectation is met or not.
  • Many genres have built-in audiences and corresponding publications that support them, such as magazines and websites.
  • The goal of the piece that is written, i.e. a newspaper entry is meant to inform and/or persuade, and a movie script is meant to entertain.
  • Basically, each genre has a specific task or a specific goal that it is created to attain.
  • Understanding Genre
  • Understanding the Rhetorical Situation

To understand genre, one has to first understand the rhetorical situation of the communication. 

genre analysis essay examples

Below are some additional resources to assist you in this process:

  • Reading and Writing for College

Genre Analysis

Genre analysis:  A tool used to create genre awareness and understand the conventions of new writing situations and contexts.  This a llows you to make effective communication choices and approach your audience and rhetorical situation appropriately

Basically, when we say "genre analysis," that is a fancy way of saying that we are going to look at similar pieces of communication - for example a handful of business memos - and determine the following:

  • Tone: What was the overall tone of voice in the samples of that genre (piece of writing)?
  • Diction : What was the overall type of writing in the three samples of that genre (piece of writing)? Formal or informal?
  •   Content : What types(s) of information is shared in those pieces of writing?
  •   Style / Format (the way it looks): Do the pieces of communication contain long or short sentences? Bulleted list? Paragraphs? Abbreviations? Does punctuation and grammar matter? How detailed do you need to be in that type of writing style? Single-spaced or double-spaced? Are pictures included? If so, why? How long does it need to be / should be? What kind of organizational requirements are there?
  •   Expected Medium of Genre : Where did the pieces appear? Were they online? Where? Were they in a printed, physical context? If so, what?
  •   Audience:   What audience is this piece of writing trying to reach?
  • Purpose :  What is the goal of the piece of writing? What is its purpose? Example: the goal of the piece that is written, i.e. a newspaper entry is meant to inform and/or persuade, and a movie script is meant to entertain.

In other words, we are analyzing the genre to determine what are some commonalities of that piece of communication. 

For additional help, see the following resource for Questions to Ask When Completing a Genre Analysis . 

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Humanities LibreTexts

12.14: Sample Student Literary Analysis Essays

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  • Page ID 40514

  • Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

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The following examples are essays where student writers focused on close-reading a literary work.

While reading these examples, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the essay's thesis statement, and how do you know it is the thesis statement?
  • What is the main idea or topic sentence of each body paragraph, and how does it relate back to the thesis statement?
  • Where and how does each essay use evidence (quotes or paraphrase from the literature)?
  • What are some of the literary devices or structures the essays analyze or discuss?
  • How does each author structure their conclusion, and how does their conclusion differ from their introduction?

Example 1: Poetry

Victoria Morillo

Instructor Heather Ringo

3 August 2022

How Nguyen’s Structure Solidifies the Impact of Sexual Violence in “The Study”

Stripped of innocence, your body taken from you. No matter how much you try to block out the instance in which these two things occurred, memories surface and come back to haunt you. How does a person, a young boy , cope with an event that forever changes his life? Hieu Minh Nguyen deconstructs this very way in which an act of sexual violence affects a survivor. In his poem, “The Study,” the poem's speaker recounts the year in which his molestation took place, describing how his memory filters in and out. Throughout the poem, Nguyen writes in free verse, permitting a structural liberation to become the foundation for his message to shine through. While he moves the readers with this poignant narrative, Nguyen effectively conveys the resulting internal struggles of feeling alone and unseen.

The speaker recalls his experience with such painful memory through the use of specific punctuation choices. Just by looking at the poem, we see that the first period doesn’t appear until line 14. It finally comes after the speaker reveals to his readers the possible, central purpose for writing this poem: the speaker's molestation. In the first half, the poem makes use of commas, em dashes, and colons, which lends itself to the idea of the speaker stringing along all of these details to make sense of this time in his life. If reading the poem following the conventions of punctuation, a sense of urgency is present here, as well. This is exemplified by the lack of periods to finalize a thought; and instead, Nguyen uses other punctuation marks to connect them. Serving as another connector of thoughts, the two em dashes give emphasis to the role memory plays when the speaker discusses how “no one [had] a face” during that time (Nguyen 9-11). He speaks in this urgent manner until the 14th line, and when he finally gets it off his chest, the pace of the poem changes, as does the more frequent use of the period. This stream-of-consciousness-like section when juxtaposed with the latter half of the poem, causes readers to slow down and pay attention to the details. It also splits the poem in two: a section that talks of the fogginess of memory then transitions into one that remembers it all.

In tandem with the fluctuating nature of memory, the utilization of line breaks and word choice help reflect the damage the molestation has had. Within the first couple of lines of the poem, the poem demands the readers’ attention when the line breaks from “floating” to “dead” as the speaker describes his memory of Little Billy (Nguyen 1-4). This line break averts the readers’ expectation of the direction of the narrative and immediately shifts the tone of the poem. The break also speaks to the effect his trauma has ingrained in him and how “[f]or the longest time,” his only memory of that year revolves around an image of a boy’s death. In a way, the speaker sees himself in Little Billy; or perhaps, he’s representative of the tragic death of his boyhood, how the speaker felt so “dead” after enduring such a traumatic experience, even referring to himself as a “ghost” that he tries to evict from his conscience (Nguyen 24). The feeling that a part of him has died is solidified at the very end of the poem when the speaker describes himself as a nine-year-old boy who’s been “fossilized,” forever changed by this act (Nguyen 29). By choosing words associated with permanence and death, the speaker tries to recreate the atmosphere (for which he felt trapped in) in order for readers to understand the loneliness that came as a result of his trauma. With the assistance of line breaks, more attention is drawn to the speaker's words, intensifying their importance, and demanding to be felt by the readers.

Most importantly, the speaker expresses eloquently, and so heartbreakingly, about the effect sexual violence has on a person. Perhaps what seems to be the most frustrating are the people who fail to believe survivors of these types of crimes. This is evident when he describes “how angry” the tenants were when they filled the pool with cement (Nguyen 4). They seem to represent how people in the speaker's life were dismissive of his assault and who viewed his tragedy as a nuisance of some sorts. This sentiment is bookended when he says, “They say, give us details , so I give them my body. / They say, give us proof , so I give them my body,” (Nguyen 25-26). The repetition of these two lines reinforces the feeling many feel in these scenarios, as they’re often left to deal with trying to make people believe them, or to even see them.

It’s important to recognize how the structure of this poem gives the speaker space to express the pain he’s had to carry for so long. As a characteristic of free verse, the poem doesn’t follow any structured rhyme scheme or meter; which in turn, allows him to not have any constraints in telling his story the way he wants to. The speaker has the freedom to display his experience in a way that evades predictability and engenders authenticity of a story very personal to him. As readers, we abandon anticipating the next rhyme, and instead focus our attention to the other ways, like his punctuation or word choice, in which he effectively tells his story. The speaker recognizes that some part of him no longer belongs to himself, but by writing “The Study,” he shows other survivors that they’re not alone and encourages hope that eventually, they will be freed from the shackles of sexual violence.

Works Cited

Nguyen, Hieu Minh. “The Study” Poets.Org. Academy of American Poets, Coffee House Press, 2018, https://poets.org/poem/study-0 .

Example 2: Fiction

Todd Goodwin

Professor Stan Matyshak

Advanced Expository Writing

Sept. 17, 20—

Poe’s “Usher”: A Mirror of the Fall of the House of Humanity

Right from the outset of the grim story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allan Poe enmeshes us in a dark, gloomy, hopeless world, alienating his characters and the reader from any sort of physical or psychological norm where such values as hope and happiness could possibly exist. He fatalistically tells the story of how a man (the narrator) comes from the outside world of hope, religion, and everyday society and tries to bring some kind of redeeming happiness to his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher, who not only has physically and psychologically wasted away but is entrapped in a dilapidated house of ever-looming terror with an emaciated and deranged twin sister. Roderick Usher embodies the wasting away of what once was vibrant and alive, and his house of “insufferable gloom” (273), which contains his morbid sister, seems to mirror or reflect this fear of death and annihilation that he most horribly endures. A close reading of the story reveals that Poe uses mirror images, or reflections, to contribute to the fatalistic theme of “Usher”: each reflection serves to intensify an already prevalent tone of hopelessness, darkness, and fatalism.

It could be argued that the house of Roderick Usher is a “house of mirrors,” whose unpleasant and grim reflections create a dark and hopeless setting. For example, the narrator first approaches “the melancholy house of Usher on a dark and soundless day,” and finds a building which causes him a “sense of insufferable gloom,” which “pervades his spirit and causes an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart, an undiscerned dreariness of thought” (273). The narrator then optimistically states: “I reflected that a mere different arrangement of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression” (274). But the narrator then sees the reflection of the house in the tarn and experiences a “shudder even more thrilling than before” (274). Thus the reader begins to realize that the narrator cannot change or stop the impending doom that will befall the house of Usher, and maybe humanity. The story cleverly plays with the word reflection : the narrator sees a physical reflection that leads him to a mental reflection about Usher’s surroundings.

The narrator’s disillusionment by such grim reflection continues in the story. For example, he describes Roderick Usher’s face as distinct with signs of old strength but lost vigor: the remains of what used to be. He describes the house as a once happy and vibrant place, which, like Roderick, lost its vitality. Also, the narrator describes Usher’s hair as growing wild on his rather obtrusive head, which directly mirrors the eerie moss and straw covering the outside of the house. The narrator continually longs to see these bleak reflections as a dream, for he states: “Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building” (276). He does not want to face the reality that Usher and his home are doomed to fall, regardless of what he does.

Although there are almost countless examples of these mirror images, two others stand out as important. First, Roderick and his sister, Madeline, are twins. The narrator aptly states just as he and Roderick are entombing Madeline that there is “a striking similitude between brother and sister” (288). Indeed, they are mirror images of each other. Madeline is fading away psychologically and physically, and Roderick is not too far behind! The reflection of “doom” that these two share helps intensify and symbolize the hopelessness of the entire situation; thus, they further develop the fatalistic theme. Second, in the climactic scene where Madeline has been mistakenly entombed alive, there is a pairing of images and sounds as the narrator tries to calm Roderick by reading him a romance story. Events in the story simultaneously unfold with events of the sister escaping her tomb. In the story, the hero breaks out of the coffin. Then, in the story, the dragon’s shriek as he is slain parallels Madeline’s shriek. Finally, the story tells of the clangor of a shield, matched by the sister’s clanging along a metal passageway. As the suspense reaches its climax, Roderick shrieks his last words to his “friend,” the narrator: “Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door” (296).

Roderick, who slowly falls into insanity, ironically calls the narrator the “Madman.” We are left to reflect on what Poe means by this ironic twist. Poe’s bleak and dark imagery, and his use of mirror reflections, seem only to intensify the hopelessness of “Usher.” We can plausibly conclude that, indeed, the narrator is the “Madman,” for he comes from everyday society, which is a place where hope and faith exist. Poe would probably argue that such a place is opposite to the world of Usher because a world where death is inevitable could not possibly hold such positive values. Therefore, just as Roderick mirrors his sister, the reflection in the tarn mirrors the dilapidation of the house, and the story mirrors the final actions before the death of Usher. “The Fall of the House of Usher” reflects Poe’s view that humanity is hopelessly doomed.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” 1839. Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library . 1995. Web. 1 July 2012. < http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/PoeFall.html >.

Example 3: Poetry

Amy Chisnell

Professor Laura Neary

Writing and Literature

April 17, 20—

Don’t Listen to the Egg!: A Close Reading of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”

“You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir,” said Alice. “Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the poem called ‘Jabberwocky’?”

“Let’s hear it,” said Humpty Dumpty. “I can explain all the poems that ever were invented—and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet.” (Carroll 164)

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass , Humpty Dumpty confidently translates (to a not so confident Alice) the complicated language of the poem “Jabberwocky.” The words of the poem, though nonsense, aptly tell the story of the slaying of the Jabberwock. Upon finding “Jabberwocky” on a table in the looking-glass room, Alice is confused by the strange words. She is quite certain that “ somebody killed something ,” but she does not understand much more than that. When later she encounters Humpty Dumpty, she seizes the opportunity at having the knowledgeable egg interpret—or translate—the poem. Since Humpty Dumpty professes to be able to “make a word work” for him, he is quick to agree. Thus he acts like a New Critic who interprets the poem by performing a close reading of it. Through Humpty’s interpretation of the first stanza, however, we see the poem’s deeper comment concerning the practice of interpreting poetry and literature in general—that strict analytical translation destroys the beauty of a poem. In fact, Humpty Dumpty commits the “heresy of paraphrase,” for he fails to understand that meaning cannot be separated from the form or structure of the literary work.

Of the 71 words found in “Jabberwocky,” 43 have no known meaning. They are simply nonsense. Yet through this nonsensical language, the poem manages not only to tell a story but also gives the reader a sense of setting and characterization. One feels, rather than concretely knows, that the setting is dark, wooded, and frightening. The characters, such as the Jubjub bird, the Bandersnatch, and the doomed Jabberwock, also appear in the reader’s head, even though they will not be found in the local zoo. Even though most of the words are not real, the reader is able to understand what goes on because he or she is given free license to imagine what the words denote and connote. Simply, the poem’s nonsense words are the meaning.

Therefore, when Humpty interprets “Jabberwocky” for Alice, he is not doing her any favors, for he actually misreads the poem. Although the poem in its original is constructed from nonsense words, by the time Humpty is done interpreting it, it truly does not make any sense. The first stanza of the original poem is as follows:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogroves,

An the mome raths outgrabe. (Carroll 164)

If we replace, however, the nonsense words of “Jabberwocky” with Humpty’s translated words, the effect would be something like this:

’Twas four o’clock in the afternoon, and the lithe and slimy badger-lizard-corkscrew creatures

Did go round and round and make holes in the grass-plot round the sun-dial:

All flimsy and miserable were the shabby-looking birds

with mop feathers,

And the lost green pigs bellowed-sneezed-whistled.

By translating the poem in such a way, Humpty removes the charm or essence—and the beauty, grace, and rhythm—from the poem. The poetry is sacrificed for meaning. Humpty Dumpty commits the heresy of paraphrase. As Cleanth Brooks argues, “The structure of a poem resembles that of a ballet or musical composition. It is a pattern of resolutions and balances and harmonizations” (203). When the poem is left as nonsense, the reader can easily imagine what a “slithy tove” might be, but when Humpty tells us what it is, he takes that imaginative license away from the reader. The beauty (if that is the proper word) of “Jabberwocky” is in not knowing what the words mean, and yet understanding. By translating the poem, Humpty takes that privilege from the reader. In addition, Humpty fails to recognize that meaning cannot be separated from the structure itself: the nonsense poem reflects this literally—it means “nothing” and achieves this meaning by using “nonsense” words.

Furthermore, the nonsense words Carroll chooses to use in “Jabberwocky” have a magical effect upon the reader; the shadowy sound of the words create the atmosphere, which may be described as a trance-like mood. When Alice first reads the poem, she says it seems to fill her head “with ideas.” The strange-sounding words in the original poem do give one ideas. Why is this? Even though the reader has never heard these words before, he or she is instantly aware of the murky, mysterious mood they set. In other words, diction operates not on the denotative level (the dictionary meaning) but on the connotative level (the emotion(s) they evoke). Thus “Jabberwocky” creates a shadowy mood, and the nonsense words are instrumental in creating this mood. Carroll could not have simply used any nonsense words.

For example, let us change the “dark,” “ominous” words of the first stanza to “lighter,” more “comic” words:

’Twas mearly, and the churly pells

Did bimble and ringle in the tink;

All timpy were the brimbledimps,

And the bip plips outlink.

Shifting the sounds of the words from dark to light merely takes a shift in thought. To create a specific mood using nonsense words, one must create new words from old words that convey the desired mood. In “Jabberwocky,” Carroll mixes “slimy,” a grim idea, “lithe,” a pliable image, to get a new adjective: “slithy” (a portmanteau word). In this translation, brighter words were used to get a lighter effect. “Mearly” is a combination of “morning” and “early,” and “ringle” is a blend of “ring” and "dingle.” The point is that “Jabberwocky’s” nonsense words are created specifically to convey this shadowy or mysterious mood and are integral to the “meaning.”

Consequently, Humpty’s rendering of the poem leaves the reader with a completely different feeling than does the original poem, which provided us with a sense of ethereal mystery, of a dark and foreign land with exotic creatures and fantastic settings. The mysteriousness is destroyed by Humpty’s literal paraphrase of the creatures and the setting; by doing so, he has taken the beauty away from the poem in his attempt to understand it. He has committed the heresy of paraphrase: “If we allow ourselves to be misled by it [this heresy], we distort the relation of the poem to its ‘truth’… we split the poem between its ‘form’ and its ‘content’” (Brooks 201). Humpty Dumpty’s ultimate demise might be seen to symbolize the heretical split between form and content: as a literary creation, Humpty Dumpty is an egg, a well-wrought urn of nonsense. His fall from the wall cracks him and separates the contents from the container, and not even all the King’s men can put the scrambled egg back together again!

Through the odd characters of a little girl and a foolish egg, “Jabberwocky” suggests a bit of sage advice about reading poetry, advice that the New Critics built their theories on. The importance lies not solely within strict analytical translation or interpretation, but in the overall effect of the imagery and word choice that evokes a meaning inseparable from those literary devices. As Archibald MacLeish so aptly writes: “A poem should not mean / But be.” Sometimes it takes a little nonsense to show us the sense in something.

Brooks, Cleanth. The Well-Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry . 1942. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1956. Print.

Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-Glass. Alice in Wonderland . 2nd ed. Ed. Donald J. Gray. New York: Norton, 1992. Print.

MacLeish, Archibald. “Ars Poetica.” The Oxford Book of American Poetry . Ed. David Lehman. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 385–86. Print.

Attribution

  • Sample Essay 1 received permission from Victoria Morillo to publish, licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International ( CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 )
  • Sample Essays 2 and 3 adapted from Cordell, Ryan and John Pennington. "2.5: Student Sample Papers" from Creating Literary Analysis. 2012. Licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported ( CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 )

9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify key rhetorical strategies that authors use to persuade readers.
  • Analyze texts to demonstrate understanding of key rhetorical concepts.
  • Identify genre conventions and explain how they are shaped by purpose, culture, and expectation.

Rhetorical analysis is the genre , or type of writing, that examines the way writers and speakers use language to influence readers. Rather than describing or summarizing content—the what of characters or themes—rhetorical analysis focuses on the individual parts of a text to show how language works to create the effects the writer wants. In other words, in addition to content, writers use rhetorical strategies to deliver and strengthen their ideas and thus influence their readers. A rhetorical analysis should, therefore, address the rhetorical situation , or conditions of communication that surround the rhetoric. These consist of the author (who), message (what), readers (to whom), purpose (why), means (how), context (where and when), and culture (community).

Culture refers to the way of life that a defined group of people establish. Their beliefs, laws, customs, and habits represent them as a group and may provide a signature to identify who they are and what they have accomplished. Rhetorical analysis must take these factors into full consideration, especially because cultural patterns are constantly changing and evolving with new knowledge and behaviors. Moreover, culture will vary greatly from group to group. Subgroups within a larger culture—for example, minorities within a majority population—may have distinct expressions of culture. When rhetorical analysis approaches language of a particular culture, questions may arise about who is best equipped to do the analysis and on what criteria, based on time and place.

Writers of rhetorical analyses consider these elements carefully and ask questions based on them. What are the goals of the author of the text? What factors are at play in the author’s choice of strategies used to make a rhetorical impact? What may occur in the interaction between the writer and reader? Will readers approach the piece neutrally, with no previous opinions? Are they likely to agree because they are of the same opinion, or are they hostile and ready to reject the arguments? Have they heard or read the ideas before? Will the ideas be too radical or too familiar? Are readers likely to see the author as sharing the field with them or as a stranger who must win their confidence?

The Workings of Rhetorical Analysis

The aim of rhetorical analysis is not to find agreement with or praise for the writer, although either may be implied or stated. The essential task of analyzing requires a detachment that will convince the readers of the validity and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the writing by identifying the writer’s tools and what they accomplish.

As you formulate your rhetorical analysis, be aware of the following approaches and strategies that writers use to persuade an audience. Your goal will be to identify them in your analysis, explain their use, and evaluate their effectiveness.

  • Establishing credibility. Writers include their credentials or experience with the subject to ensure that readers will take them seriously as someone who knows what they’re talking about. To reinforce their authority, they cite reliable sources as support for their points.
  • Sharing personal experience. Sharing a personal experience related to the subject enhances credibility and may also appeal to readers’ emotions.
  • Targeting emotional concerns. By specifically addressing those incidents or outcomes that readers may fear or desire, the author can rally them to take a particular position. Emotional concerns also include appeals to the five senses and to broader sentiments such as love, loyalty, anger, justice, or patriotism.
  • Using devices that draw attention to claims. These include literary devices such as parallelism, repetition, and rhetorical questions that writers and speakers use to emphasize points and unify a text.
  • Supporting claims with convincing evidence. Ways of supporting claims include quoting, summarizing, or paraphrasing expert opinions; relating anecdotes and examples; and citing appropriate statistics and facts.
  • Acknowledging the opposition. If a writer makes a point of explaining other groups’ positions carefully and respectfully, readers from those groups, as well as the target audience, are more likely to be responsive to the writer. By acknowledging the opposition, writers show they have considered opposing views and can then demonstrate that their position is preferable.
  • Questioning the motivation of the opposition. By exposing others’ possibly conflicting interests, the writer can undermine the credibility of an opponent’s character or argument.

In addition to these, writers may use more questionable rhetorical devices to persuade readers. While the techniques of each strategy differ, all lead away from the actual argument and seek to persuade through means other than reasonable, logical thought. Such strategies include bandwagon, ad hominem (name-calling), bait and switch, and more. Recall the roommates’ use of some of these in their efforts at persuasion in Breaking the Whole into Its Parts .

Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising and Public Policy

The strategies and other devices of rhetorical writing that are open to analysis are present in many types of communication, including multimodal examples such as advertisements that combine visuals with carefully crafted texts, dialogue, and voice-over.

Look at the M&Ms commercial, for example, in this collection of Super Bowl ads. Starting at minute 4:57, the prize-winning ad for M&Ms initially shows the widely recognizable candy in its multiple colors as both speaking cartoon figures and symbols of human behavior. The simple pitch: when people have offended others in one of a range of interpersonal blunders, the candy is offered as a peace offering. For example, the first image shows a man on a plane bumping into another passenger’s seat, causing him to spill his drink. The offender then offers the passenger a package of M&Ms. What is the rhetorical strategy behind the situation and the gesture? The ad appeals to pathos in the sense that people feel the need to be liked. Despite the humorous twist in the comment that he kicked the seat on purpose, the offending man nonetheless doesn’t want to be disliked. Nor do the others who commit other blunders. The sense of taste—sweetness—also comes into play, appealing to the senses, as does the sense of sight in the images of the colorful candy.

Furthermore, placing the ad during the Super Bowl targets an audience of game watchers whose ages, interests, and habits have been studied. They may be in a snacking frame of mind, so the appeal of candy is timely (kairos). The ad combines sophistication, appropriate adult behavior, and childishly amusing animation and personification. Seeing the product makes it more memorable. On the other hand, note the subtle use of the bandwagon fallacy: different people in different situations are doing the same thing—offering M&Ms. The bandwagon implication is that if you do something you’re sorry for or should be sorry for (or even if you don’t), giving out M&Ms is the way to apologize and be likable. Because travelers, businesspeople, the religiously observant, and others from different walks of life are doing it, so should you.

Figure 9.4 is an image from the U.S. Forest Service that also reflects the use of rhetorical strategies. Smokey Bear is a symbol created in 1944 to raise awareness of the danger of forest fires. Images of this gentle, personified bear are often accompanied by the slogan “Remember . . . only you can prevent forest fires” or a variation of it. The image shows Smokey dressed in rolled-up jeans, a name belt, and a ranger’s hat. He is reading letters delivered by a mail truck and sent to his own ZIP code, 20252, from children and adults promising to cooperate with his environmental efforts. The entire image is among the most recognizable of American cultural symbols.

The continuing identification of the bear and his appeal over decades is an example of the powerful use of rhetorical devices that speak without seeming to become dated and lose impact. First, a wild and dangerous animal is personified and made credible so that the credibility (ethos) of Smokey as a domesticated father figure with a fuzzy, playful cub climbing on the family mailbox removes any sense of danger and instead makes him into a believable voice for safety. No humans are emphasized in the illustration; the mail truck is seen only in the distance after having delivered another stack of fan mail. Other small animals are present in the background, as are familiar household items such as a shovel, a mailbox, an American flag, a boat on crystal clear water, and the playful images of the ranger’s hat and rolled-up jeans on crossed legs. The drawing features bright primary colors and the dark forest green of bountiful nature. The print medium in the center of the illustration, the sign reading “Prevent forest fires,” unifies the visual.

Because the images are emotionally accessible to children as well as adults, they appeal to widely shared pathos. The unspoken implication is that preventing forest fires will allow these young animals and forest plants to live rather than die in a carelessly started—and deadly—fire. In addition, it will allow human life to continue safely and pleasurably, as viewers can see, far in the background, people sailing and enjoying the water. If children’s wisdom and receptivity to images are present, this idealized picture has great appeal. Rather than a harsh rebuke for adult negligence, the lesson of Smokey relies on the power of rhetoric to modify behavior with specific, carefully crafted appeals. Yet the most frequently used slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” is an example of hyperbole. Certainly “you” are not the sole person responsible for starting or preventing fires. Other people and other factors are at work aside from yourself.

More explicit, however, is this earlier image:

The rhetorical strategy again is pathos, appealing to a sense of guilt. If these children can help prevent fires, then surely adults can do the same, as they are likely more knowledgeable and care for the safety and health of their children.

Rhetorical Analysis: Key Terms

Rhetorical appeals.

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these appeals writers use to persuade their audiences.

  • Ethos : believable, authoritative voice that elicits credibility and audience trust.
  • Kairos : sense of appropriate timing when attempting to persuade.
  • Logos : credible information—facts, reasons, or examples—presented as evidence that moves toward a sensible and acceptable conclusion.
  • Pathos : the use of appeals to feelings and emotions shared by an audience. Some of the general categories are fear, guilt, anger, love, loyalty, patriotism, and duty.

Rhetorical Devices and Language Use

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these devices writers use to organize and emphasize their writing.

  • Figurative language : similes and metaphors. Comparing one aspect of things that in other ways are completely different is an essential part of rhetorical language. Simile example: “The treasure chest of nature’s wonders shone like a pirate’s gold tooth.” Metaphor example: “The pizza was a disk of saucy sunlight.”
  • Numerical data : statistics and figures. When accurate, numerical data can strengthen an argument.
  • Parallel structure : repetition of the same pattern of words to show that ideas are equally significant. Parallel structure, or parallelism, calls attention to these ideas, achieves balance, and makes the statements more memorable. Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
  • Personification : giving an inanimate or nonhuman object human characteristics to make it seem alive and relatable. Examples: “The virus packed its bags and spread across the ocean”; “Twitter erupted in outrage.”
  • Repetition : repeating a single word or group of words to build emphasis. Example: “The first underline cause end underline is poverty; the second underline cause end underline is poor health; the third underline cause end underline is discrimination. These underline causes end underline have been studied, but to what effect?”
  • Rhetorical question : a question that is not expected to be answered, one for which there is no answer, or one that creates a dramatic effect. Examples: “Has it occurred to you to ask why the economy is so unstable? A first point to consider is . . .”; “Do you think poverty will go away by itself?”
  • Understatement : presenting something as less important than it is as a way of distancing from the truth. Understatement is often used sarcastically or ironically. Example: “It may not have occurred to politicians that poverty leads to a host of health-related issues.”

Rhetorical Fallacies

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these fallacies writers may use to unethically persuade their audiences.

  • Ad hominem : logical fallacy that attempts to discredit a person, not an argument. Ad hominem , meaning “against the man,” is often termed name-calling . Examples: “She’s just a leftover from another era who can’t accept change”; “He’s a stupid bully and an outright thief.”
  • Bait and switch : logical fallacy that introduces a point about one thing that is likely to be accepted and then changes the terms once initial agreement occurs. Example: “Buy these phones at this price before they’re all gone!” When you go to buy one, moments later, the phones are gone—and they’re far more expensive.
  • Bandwagon : logical fallacy often used in advertising and propaganda. It tries to make people do something or think a certain way because everyone is doing it, and if they don’t go along, they will be excluded. Example: “Everyone is buying these sneakers; get yours now before you’re left out.” Negative example: “This style is so dated; no one wears things like this now.”
  • Causal fallacy : the faulty logic of claiming or believing that an event that follows another event is the result of it. For example, losing your keys after going to a concert does not mean the events are connected causally; going to the concert did not cause you to lose your keys.
  • Hyperbole : exaggeration. Hyperbole is one of the staples of advertising language. Examples: “Season’s Best Peppermint Glazed Delights”; “I have a ton of homework.”

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Sample Essay On Genre Analysis

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Writing , Literature , Writer , The Reader , Tone , Language , Emotions , Information

Published: 11/11/2021

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Genre Analysis

Literary genres are identified in large part by their view, structure, and tone. Chapters 6 -8 of our text, Essentials of College Writing, deal with the qualities of different genres: personal writing, persuasive writing, and expository writing. Each of these has qualities particular to that type of writing. In personal writing, the writer uses the first person point of view because they are speaking directly to the reader, explaining the writer’s own thoughts and feelings. This is a subjective genre because it is dependent on the writer’s perspective. They are structured linearly flowing from beginning through the end - often chronologically. They don’t use headings or other things that create sections in the paper, and are intended to inspire the reader to engage with the story that is being told. Personal writing has a less formal tone than any other kind. Contractions and other informal language is permitted. These papers can, under certain circumstances, make use of thesis statements or introductions, depending on the time of personal writing it is, but most often they will be linear and informal. In persuasive writing, the writer is trying to convince the reader of something. It may be a personal opinion, but it is different from personal writing. Persuasive writing can use first or third person point of view because while the writer may want to focus on the subject, engaging the reader is also an effective way to persuade. The tone in a persuasive paper uses rational argumentation, but also will use emotive reasoning. But the tone and language are always of the upmost importance in persuasive writing because they dictate the efficacy of the writing. It should not be overly emotive or insulting toward any other viewpoints. In expository writing, the writer intends to share objective information with the reader. The third person point of view is used because it focuses on the subject rather than either the writer or reader. Both persuasive and expository writing will be structured along the lines of the five paragraph essay. They will have an introduction, where the thesis the writer is defending will be told along with three main points supporting the thesis. Then the body of the paper will have a section for each main point, in which the details of that point are told. Then they will have a conclusion, where the thesis is reinforced and the point of the paper is restated. This essay is an expository paper. It has a clear structure, formal language, and is intended to give information to the reader, but not particularly for the purpose of persuading the reader of anything. These are the marks of an expository piece of writing.

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Home — Essay Samples — Education — Teaching — Genre Analysis is a Branch of Discourse Analysis: Connections Between Language and Types of Texts

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Genre Analysis is a Branch of Discourse Analysis: Connections Between Language and Types of Texts

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Published: May 17, 2022

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Table of contents

Genre analysis slr outline, genre analysis slr essay example, introduction.

  • Importance of understanding genre-based writing for language teachers

Literature Review

  • Definition and purpose of genre analysis
  • Key terms in genre analysis: 'genre', 'stages', 'register'
  • Role of genre analysis in language teaching

Genre Analysis

  • Identification of the genre of the assigned text (exposition/opinion)

Examination of the features of the text

  • Context of its occurrence
  • Communicative purpose of the text
  • Overall organization of the text

The register of the text

  • Linguistic features of the text
  • Salient aspects of coherence and cohesion of the text
  • Overall effectiveness of the text

Implications for Teaching

  • Challenges faced by second language learners in writing
  • Importance of genre analysis in teaching
  • Strategies for teaching genre-specific writing
  • Benefits of genre-based instruction for students' understanding and improvement in writing skills
  • Recap of the significance of genre analysis in language teaching
  • The role of genre analysis in helping students understand the structure and purpose of texts

Literature review

Genre analysis, identification of the genre,  analysis of the text,  context of its occurrence, the communicative purpose of the text, the overall organization of the text, the linguistic features of the text, the salient aspects of coherence and cohesion of the text, the overall effectiveness of the text, implications.

  • Curriculum Development Council. (2017). English language education: Key learning area curriculum guide (primary 1 – secondary 6). Hong Kong, HKSAR: Government Logistics Department. Retrieved https://www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/curriculum- development/kla/eng-edu/Curriculum%20Document/ELE%20KLACG_2017.pdf
  • Henry, A., & Roseberry, R. L. (1998). An evaluation of a genre-based approach to the teaching of EAP/ESP writing. TESOL Quarterly, 32(1), 147-156.
  • Hyland, K. (2004). Genre and second language writing. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.
  • Hyland, K. (2007). Genre pedagogy: Language, literacy and L2 writing instruction. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16, 148–164.
  • Lee, I. (1998). Enhancing ESL students’ awareness of coherence-creating mechanisms in writing. TESL Canada Journal, 15(2), 36–49.
  • Nunan, D. (1993). Introducing discourse analysis. London, UK: Penguin.
  • Painter, C. (2001). Understanding genre and register: Implications for language teaching. In A. Burns & C. Coffin (Eds.), Analysing English in a global context (pp. 167–180). London, UK: Routledge.
  • Paltridge, B. (2006). Discourse analysis. London, UK: Continuum.

Should follow an “upside down” triangle format, meaning, the writer should start off broad and introduce the text and author or topic being discussed, and then get more specific to the thesis statement.

Cornerstone of the essay, presenting the central argument that will be elaborated upon and supported with evidence and analysis throughout the rest of the paper.

The topic sentence serves as the main point or focus of a paragraph in an essay, summarizing the key idea that will be discussed in that paragraph.

The body of each paragraph builds an argument in support of the topic sentence, citing information from sources as evidence.

After each piece of evidence is provided, the author should explain HOW and WHY the evidence supports the claim.

Should follow a right side up triangle format, meaning, specifics should be mentioned first such as restating the thesis, and then get more broad about the topic at hand. Lastly, leave the reader with something to think about and ponder once they are done reading.

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genre analysis essay examples

Assessment Rubric for Genre Analysis

  

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Genre Analysis Essays

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    Genre analysis: A tool used to create genre awareness and understand the conventions of new writing situations and contexts. This a llows you to make effective communication choices and approach your audience and rhetorical situation appropriately. Basically, when we say "genre analysis," that is a fancy way of saying that we are going to look at similar pieces of communication - for example a ...

  5. 12.14: Sample Student Literary Analysis Essays

    Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap. City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative. Table of contents. Example 1: Poetry. Example 2: Fiction. Example 3: Poetry. Attribution. The following examples are essays where student writers focused on close-reading a literary work.

  6. PDF Rhetorical Genre Analysis

    Find 3 examples of what you suspect is the genre (e.g., 3 posters of horror movies, 3 political concession speeches). "Create" the genre/subgenre using Campbell & Jamison or ... Any effective analysis essay deals with an explicit Research Question/Purpose whose answer is worth knowing, whose answer is not obvious to a one-time reader/viewer ...

  7. Genre Analysis Essay

    Genre Analysis Principles. principles of genre analysis. These principles include: Beaufort's five domains of knowledge, discourse community attitudes and values, rhetorical and other textual features. The rhetorical and other textual features can be divided into sub-principles such as content, function, format and different rhetoric appeals.

  8. 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis

    15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis; 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne; 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact; 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused; 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study; 15.8 Spotlight on ...

  9. PDF Unit 3: Genre Analysis Purpose

    2 No cover page (however if you're analyzing public genres please attach the genres to your is essay as illustrations or figure references) is required for this essay, and this paper MUST follow strict MLA formatting. Final papers are due by Midnight on Thursday, Nov 15. Illness or emergencies do occur and it is recommended that students prepare in advance for assignment

  10. 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies

    The strategies and other devices of rhetorical writing that are open to analysis are present in many types of communication, including multimodal examples such as advertisements that combine visuals with carefully crafted texts, dialogue, and voice-over. Figure 9.3 M&Ms (credit: "Plain M&Ms Pile" by Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons, Public ...

  11. PDF HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

    The term regularly used for the development of the central idea of a literary analysis essay is the body. In this section you present the paragraphs (at least 3 paragraphs for a 500-750 word essay) that support your thesis statement. Good literary analysis essays contain an explanation of your ideas and evidence from the text (short story,

  12. Genre Analysis Essay Example

    Learn how to identify and analyze different literary genres with this expository essay example. The essay explains the qualities of personal, persuasive, and expository writing, and provides a clear structure, formal language, and objective information.

  13. What Is Genre Analysis: A Taxonomic Examination With Example

    Genre Analysis Example: Musical The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz is one of the biggest American Musicals in film. It has become known world wide, it is a part of our American popular culture, and is best known of all films. It was based on the novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum in the 1900s.

  14. Genre Analysis is a Branch of Discourse Analysis ...

    Genre Analysis SLR Essay Example Introduction. Introduction: As we are language teachers, we are the first ones who need to understand the approach in genre-based writing. Thesis statement: In the following section on this paper, it aims to identify, describe and analyze the features of the given text.

  15. Genre Analysis Essay

    Learn how to analyze and compare two genres on the same topic using rhetorical issues, content, structure, and style. See the assignment instructions, key elements, and assessment rubric for this writing project.

  16. PB1B- Genre Analysis Essay Example

    An example of this can be seen in Al's Pizzeria and Grill ad as a portion of the writing and background of the ad itself is in red. In addition to this color, Ads typically are viewed when a person is flipping through a magazine or driving on a road and therefore must be immediately appetizing to the reader.

  17. Genre Essays: Examples, Topics, & Outlines

    genre" to frame your analysis to compare "The Dark Knight" (2008) and "Iron Man 2" (2010) in relation to popular film culture A comparison of 'the dark knight' (2008) and 'iron man 2' (2010) In relation to popular film culture The film technology has taken a center stage in many discussions concerning the film culture in the world today. With advancement in technology especially in relation to ...

  18. Genre Analysis Essay Examples

    Communication and Media: Genre Analysis. The chronicle of mass communication and media stretches from the prehistoric forms of writing and art. However, this was through the basic printing technology which existed around 800AD. Examples of inventions that took place during this period include the printing press in 1455, the invention of the ...

  19. Genre Analysis for Novice L2 Writers : Sample Activities and

    An important aim of genre analysis activities is to make learners more aware of how texts and. social contexts are connected. One simple analysis activity recommended by Swales and Feak (1994 ...

  20. Examples Of Genre Analysis

    Good Essays. 976 Words. 4 Pages. Open Document. Literature review. Genre analysis, literally is to analyze a piece of genre which is "a staged,goal-oriented,purposeful activity"in which speakers/writers engaged to express a certain meaning (Martin,1984,p.25). In other words, people use language in various occasions, for some certain ...