A Source Based Essay

Essay #1: Source-Based Essay on Rhetorical Situation: Author, Audience, Tone, Purpose, Genre, Medium, and Stance
Assignment Resources

Goals for this Assignment

With this assignment, we want you (our audience) to get some practice with the rhetorical terms that we list above (our purpose). We will use these rhetorical terms throughout the semester; they form the basis of the course. Throughout the course, we want to develop your understanding of how rhetoric and writing function in social contexts. You’ll be able to use what you learn about rhetoric in this course and apply it in any other course that requires writing. We also want to familiarize you with CCNY’s academic databases. You already know how to search for material on the open web; a better understanding of how to make use of academic databases will expand the range of materials to which you have access. (Notice our tone and language here: professional, but not too academic. Accessible, but not casual.)

Technical Details

For this assignment, you will write a source-based article (that is, you’ll do some research in CCNY’s academic databases) in which you will describe the rhetorical elements–author and audience, tone and purpose, genre and medium, and stance and language–of four sources that you have found in CCNY’s academic databases and on the open web on the subject of your choice. You need to have at least four sources, and they must include a web site (including social media posts), a magazine article, a newspaper article, and a scholarly source (we’ll discuss “scholarly sources” in detail during the class). With the exception of the website, you must locate your sources within CCNY’s academic databases. We recommend that you use Academic One File, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, and the National Newspaper Index, but the choice is up to you.

For each article you choose, you will provide a brief summary, describe its author and audience, tone and purpose, genre and medium, and stance. In your analysis, you’ll not only identify, for example, the writer’s purpose–to inform, to persuade, to argue, or something else–but also what in the text tells you what the purpose is. If, for example, I think the article’s purpose is to argue, I’d point out phrases like “In this article I argue,” or point out where the author makes specific claims about their subject. You’ll also need to look at both the articles you choose and the publication in which they appear. Looking at the publication’s web site will give you a lot of information about your article’s purpose and audience.

Finally, you’ll make connections between the various articles that you analyze. In what ways are your various sources similar or different?


In this essay, you’re describing a series of articles. Instead of making an argument, as school essays often do, you’re exploring your sources from a rhetorical perspective. The essay should include:

A general introduction, that tells the reader what your subject is
Rhetorical analyses of four sources
Your thoughts about the relationships between the rhetorical elements of your sources
With the exception of the general introduction, your essay doesn’t have to be in this exact order. You might, for example, want to talk about author and audience across all of your sources at the same time instead of separately presenting the audience analysis for each article.

Length: 6-7 pages, including citations (1,500-1,750 words)

Submission: Through Blackboard (we’ll go through the process in class)


Evaluation Rubric

Have you

Used four different genres for your sources?
Identified and made comparisons between the various rhetorical aspects of your sources, including rhetorical situation, purpose, audience, genre, and stance?
Uploaded your assignment to Bb?

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