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Rhetorical Analysis of “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D.
Write an essay of at least FOUR full MLA-formatted pages, where you offer a rhetorical analysis of Twenge’s article. You will identify her thesis and analyze the various rhetorical choices (devices #038; strategies) she makes to draw out her point of view. For your thesis, offer an arguable statement about how effectively she makes her argument. That is, has she convinced you? Why or why not?
Remember when you evaluate someone’s argument, you are focusing your analysis on not what they say but rather on HOW they choose to say it.
Twenge’s article was published in The Atlantic magazine ahead of her new book about the igeneration, which is mentioned on the last page of the pdf of the article. She is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. Twenge has written numerous scholarly (peer reviewed) articles and has authored several books, including Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic. One of her main areas of expertise is generational differences.
In your introduction:
- Introduce Twenge and state her credibility, give her article title, and mention the name of the publication it was found in.
- State TWENGE’S THESIS
- Mention anything else you believe you need to discuss to create context for the rest of your essay. Perhaps some background on the topic she writes about or something about how she constructs her argument (for ex., its strengths and weaknesses).
- State YOUR THESIS, which evaluates the effectiveness of her argument. Has she convinced you? Why or why not?
Then offer 4-5 BODY PARAGRAPHS, each with its own narrow and arguable point or topic sentence. Each paragraph should focus on developing a single rhetorical strategy of device.
Each body paragraph must be supported with occasional BRIEF quotations from Twenge’s article. When you offer a quotation, be sure to provide an in-text citation after it with the paragraph number it was found in. I have numbered the paragraphs for you in Twenge’s article. See how Betsy Swinton uses occasional brief quotations in her analysis of Kristoff’s essay in your textbook (Barnet, Bedau,#038; O’Hara). Be sure that each body paragraph is unified around a singular topic of development (for exle, her use of humor). Also see the useful checklists in your textbook on pp. 181-182 (for analyzing a text) and pp. 191-192 (for writing an analysis of an argument). Click here for a helpful planning outline.
When you devise point sentences for a rhetorical analysis, do two things in your sentence.
First mention the rhetorical device you will focus on in the paragraph and second explain the intended effect of using that strategy.
For instance: Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech “I Have a Dream” uses pathos quite often.
Here is my point sentence for a paragraph in my rhetorical analysis of his speech:
MLK, Jr. chooses a series of exles of the suffering and unfair treatment of Black folks to elicit sympathy and a sense of urgency to change things in his listeners.
Let’s analyze this point sentence:
[MLK, Jr. chooses a series of exles of the suffering and unfair treatment of Black folks]—this part announces the rhetorical strategy he chooses, associated with generating pathos.
[to elicit sympathy and a sense of urgency to change things in his listeners.]—this part explains his intention for giving his readers those emotional exles.
For the text of MLK, Jr’s speech, click HERE (Links to an external site.).
For your conclusion: Keep it brief and give your final overall analysis of Twenge’s piece. MLK, Jr. chooses a series of exles of the suffering and unfair treatment of Black folks to elicit sympathy and a sense of urgency to change things in his listeners.
Here is a starter list of rhetorical devices you could write about (but this is not an exhaustive list. Also see Module 7):
- Who is Twenge’s target audience and how does she attempt to connect with them?
- Does she create a positive ethos, and if so, how does she do it? Does she come across as genuinely concerned about youth, and if so why?
- What kinds of evidence does she provide (take a look at her use of authoritative testimonials from teens)?
- Does she adequately address counter-evidence?
- What level of language does she choose to make her argument and is it effective or not?
- Does she use any humor, and is it effective? Review Kristof’s use of persuasion strategies here.
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