Rhetorical Analysis Essay – Any song from Hamlet the Musical- Minimum 1000 words

Please read the rubric attached down below :)For this assignment, students will write a 1,000 word essay that analyzes the rhetorical strategies used in one of the songs from Hamilton the Musical. Rhetoric is a term that is broadly used, but its most classical definition is the art of persuasion. If you are asked to write a rhetorical analysis, you are really being asked to identify the particular strategies that an author is using to appeal to or persuade a given audience. Typically, the three components of the rhetorical situation are defined as the writer/speaker, the audience, and the message.

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English 1B
T. Coleman
Essay #1 Close Reading/Explication
The close reading paper will be your first paper of the semester. Let me distinguish between the
close reading paper and the more commonly written literary analysis; the difference is subtle,
but significant. Essentially, in literary analyses authors tend to analyze more strictly for meaning
and for the way a poem reflects its historical era than they do in close reading papers. The
literary analysis typically requires more research; it is central in literature classes.
The close reading paper, or as critic Helen Vendler calls it, ?the aesthetic reading,? arose in
creative writing classes. It usually requires less research and has evolved as a way of analyzing
poems for the way craft guides, reinforces, and enhances their meanings. To do a close reading
we ask questions like: Which craft elements (image, diction, line breaks, etc.) are emphasized by
this poet? Why does the poet make the compositional choices he/she has made over the endless
other possibilities? How are the poems assembled? Why are they assembled that way? This is
not to say that we ignore the emotional, political, or intellectual content of poems when we write
close reading papers. It is to say that in a close reading paper we emphasize how the emotional,
political, or intellectual content is delivered to a reader. We accomplish this through the analysis
of parts and for this we have a specialized vocabulary (see handout on helpful terminology).
Your close reading paper will be a short paper (roughly 2.5-3 pages, typed, double-spaced).
In it, you will close-read a poem from the selected poems. You don?t need to do any reading
outside of the packet to write this paper. Remember, it?s your job in the close reading paper to
analyze the mechanics of the poems you choose, but do so in order to make a larger argument
about the poet?s goals. Ask, ?What is this poet trying to do, trying to say, with his/her poetry and
how does craft guide, reinforce, enhance that?? Needless to say, it?s helpful to write about a
poem whose overall project is something you feel you ?get.? If there?s a problem students have
with this type of paper, it?s achieving focus. I suggest you choose only one or two craft elements
to focus on (craft elements that seem central to the poem?s work). Overall, your goal in a close
reading paper is to write perceptively and precisely about a poem that is important to you. Enjoy
the process. Make it work for you!
What should my close reading paper contain? (or, what will my grade be based on?)
Use specific support for your assertions. This usually means directly quoting the poem.
You may quote a few words or even a line or two. If you say, ?The poem has a
melancholy tone? you?ll need to support that claim with the poem itself. Doing that will
help you make strong claims. When you quote more than one line from a poem. you need
to use a ?/? to show where the line breaks.
A guiding idea (a thesis statement of sorts, though it may span 2-3 sentences) that
indicates the focus of your paper.
A description of what ?happens? in the poem. This is where you provide a careful
summary of the movement of the poem. This could be a summary of the story the poem
tells, the shifting thoughts/feelings/ideas.
An analysis of how the poet uses craft elements to make meaning(s) in the poem.
Identify a few craft elements that seem most important to the meaning(s) you find in the
poem (you don?t want to try to name all the possible craft elements in the poem).
Demonstrate your knowledge of craft by using correct terminology (if you don?t know
what something?s called, look it up!).
Thoughtfulness, effort, and time. You don?t need to be an expert in poetry to be
thoughtful, put forth effort, and dedicate time to working through a poem.
Write a review. A reading asks you to step outside of the poem and discuss it apart from
your likes or dislikes.
Spend a lot of time discussing the author or historical/political context, etc. A little bit is
okay, but shouldn?t be the basis for your reading.
Try to sum everything up into one theme or meaning. It?s okay to say that the poet leaves
us with some questions. Remember that if there were an easy answer to a poem, it
probably isn?t a very good poem. The same is true of a close reading: if you can easily
wrap your paper up with a lovely bow, it probably isn?t a reading that?s true to the poem.
Don?t refer to the author by their first name unless you know them! It?s standard to refer
to the poet by their first and last name the first time you mention them and by their last
name only from then on.
Forget basic grammar, punctuation, and usage rules. I expect that you will proofread, and
will not correct or mark errors; however, if they are distracting, they may affect your
grade. Errors that can be easily fixed by proofreading tell me that you are perhaps not
being particularly thoughtful about the paper.
How to do a Close Reading of a poem
A few ideas to get you started
1. Circle or underline words or phrases that “stick out” at you. What grabs you about the
poem? What seems to clamor for your attention? What confuses you? Are there words you
don’t understand?
2. Map out the poem: draw arrows between words, phrases and images that seem related;
make notes in the margins about the connections you find. React with your pen and you’re
more likely to remember later what struck you and what you
discovered through your process of reading.
3. Sometimes it’s useful to list all the parts of speech in a short
poem or in one section of a longer poem. For instance, list all the
adjectives or nouns or verbs; notice the kind of language the poet
uses. Is it coy? Brash? Angry? Intoxicated? Joyful?
Musical? Monotonous? Ebullient? (You get the idea. The
list could go on forever.) Reattach the adjectives to their
nouns and consider each noun-adjective pair against the other
pairs in the poem. Place the verb with its subject or object and feel the
action of the verb.
4. Read the poem aloud. Pretend you are the author and read it as you imagine he or she
intended it to be read. Is it satirical, read with dripping sarcasm? Is it full of wonder, read
with profound feeling? Romantic? Disparaging? Hopeless? Even-keeled? Now read the
poem aloud as if it offended you, delighted you, fascinated you, confused you. How does it
change with each kind of reading? This should help you get at the tone of the poem.
5. Look at the form of the poem on the page. What does it look like? Is it blocky? Elegant?
Ragged? What about line length–are the lines uniform? Uneven? Short? Staggered?
6. What about the rhythm of the poem? Can you get a sense of its meter? Pound out the
rhythm on your knee. Try counting syllables in a number of lines. What about rhyme
scheme, if any? Does the poem have alliteration (the repetition of consonant sounds) or
assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds)?
7. Who is the poet addressing in the poem, if anyone? Why do you think
he or she wrote the poem?
What’s the big idea of the poem? How does each element of the
poem contribute to this big idea? Try to write it out in a sentence or short
Remember to keep your conclusions firmly grounded in the text
of the poem, supporting your assertions with evidence in the poem.
Using outside information (history, biographies, etc.) often can help us
understand the poem, but the best way “in” (at first, anyway) is always
through the door of the poem itself.
Assignment description borrowed from: https://rosenbergwriter.wordpress.com/poetry-close-reading-paper/
and UCSB Writing Program.
Essays are due Thursday February 1, 2017.

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