Practice making arguable claims about how a text addresses context and audience
This week’s response is a practice RA.
Your goals for this exercise are to:
- Demonstrate your understanding of travel writing conventions, especially regarding gender and traveler’s persona (self-fashioning)
- Practice making arguable claims about how a text addresses context and audience (rhetorical analysis)
- Practice integrating sources purposefully in your writing
- Develop some potential ideas for your RA essay
This week’s travel essays portray striking traveler personas, each with a distinct voice, perspective, and motivation for travel. These personas obviously reflect how the writers want to portray themselves as serious individual travelers. However, their personas and other rhetorical strategies also relate to larger social and cultural purposes for travel (including, but not limited to):
- exploring memory and self-reflection
- exploring and challenging gender roles
- exploring relationships with others–family, strangers
- exploring politics and history
- exploring “off the beaten path”
For this week’s practice rhetorical analysis, choose ONE of the assigned essays and make an argument about how that essay attempts to elicit a specific response from a specific audience, or how the essay comments on some larger social, cultural, or political issue.
- Focus on the language, tone, and style of your chosen essay, as well as the selection of details and multimodal elements (interactivity, images, etc.).
- Analyze specific examples/passages to support your arguments.
1) Freda Moon’s “Born to Travel” Links to an external site.tells of a pregnant woman journeying to reconnect (in different ways) with her parents. What is Moon’s primary message? Who is this essay intended for (consider the venue, as well as what you can infer from the rhetorical strategies)? What do the audience’s shared concerns, interests, and assumptions seem to be? What response is the author trying to elicit from her audience and how does she employ conventions of travel writing to encourage that response? How does Moon use her memories of her mother and experiences with her father to comment on the larger issues of family dynamics and women’s travel?
2) Patricia Marx’s “A Tale of a Tub” Links to an external site.features an adventurous, self-deprecating woman narrating an uncomfortable trip on a freighter ship. What is Marx’s primary message? Who is this essay intended for (consider the venue, as well as what you can infer from the rhetorical strategies)? What do the audience’s shared concerns, interests, and assumptions seem to be? What is the point of this journey “off the beaten path” and what is the author’s attitude toward it? What response is the author trying to elicit from her audience and how does she employ conventions of travel writing to encourage that response? How does Marx use her experiences to comment on the larger issue of venturing “off the beaten path”?
- Begin by considering the persona of the writer and their purpose for writing about a particular travel experience. Refer to AGWR 10 for guiding questions and sample arguments that will help you get started.
- Your thesis should stay focused on HOW the essay writer uses language and selects details to create a specific, meaningful effect on her audience and/or achieve a specific, meaningful purpose.
- Simply summarizing each essay and comparing what certain details mean will not result in a true rhetorical analysis.
- You don’t have to do additional research for this response. Stay focused on the text. (We’ll practice integrating sources in class).
- Make sure to quote relevant passages from the essays and be as specific as you can! Persuasive analysis needs concrete evidence.
- Remember to follow the three-step method described in AGWR 4.
Your response should be at least 500 words (two double-spaced pages) long; discuss specific examples from your primary and secondary texts to support your main arguments.
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