1 Essay 3 – Discourse Analysis This is an analysis essay. Once you have researched the history and context of your issue, it is time to focus on


Essay 3 – Discourse Analysis

This is an analysis essay. Once you have researched the history and context of your

issue, it is time to focus on the arguments around your research question. This assignment is

called a “discourse analysis” because you will classify, summarize, evaluate, and analyze the

arguments and rhetoric comprising the discourse around your research question. Unlike the

previous essay, you will enter the debate yourself and respond to the arguments by agreeing,

disagreeing, or some combination of the two.

Here are a list of the tasks you need to complete in the researching and writing portions

of this assignment:

Identify the relevant arguments and find examples of them. For example, if your

subject is the high cost of college – what are the arguments about why college in

America is so expensive? What are the arguments about how to fix this? Be sure to find

examples from a range of positions on the issue: arguments for tuition-free college and

arguments against it; arguments by political activists, scholars, and students; arguments

made in different contexts like edited newspapers and websites, but also in unedited

contexts like social media.

Classify the arguments. Classify them by position on the issue (for, against, etc…).

Even within similar positions there are distinctions. Continuing with the example of cost

of college, there are those who argue for making public college tuition-free for everyone

and those who say it should only be free for people whose family income is below a

certain level. Classify the arguments by context and intended audience: arguments

made in newspapers and websites, arguments made by “experts,” arguments made by


regular people on social media, arguments made by young people and older people,


Summarize the arguments. In your own words, accurately and fairly explain the thesis

and main points. Provide any compelling evidence the authors use to support their

arguments. For example, someone argues that the full cost of tuition-free college for

everyone could be covered by a 0.05% tax on Wall Street stock trades.

Identify and analyze the persuasive appeals of the arguments: ethos, logos, and

pathos. Here is a link to the video on these terms. By understanding and applying these

rhetorical terms, you can better evaluate arguments. Based on your topic and the

arguments involved, which types of argument are most relevant and effective?

Incorporate your analysis of each argument’s persuasive appeals into your summaries

and responses. For example, someone arguing against tuition-free college might cite

how much it would cost (logos) and use a personal example of how they worked hard to

pay off their student loans (pathos), so they feel that it is unfair to them.

Identify and analyze the rhetoric (ex. language, imagery, and style) of the

arguments. These are part of the discourses on your subject. Here is a link to the video

on discourse. What words, phrases and imagery are used in particular contexts and by

people on different sides of the argument? For example, those who support tuition-free

college often use terms like “education is a right” or a “public good,” that publicly funding

college gives “opportunity” and “freedom” to more people. Opponents of tuition-free

college accuse the other side of wanting “free stuff” and “government handouts.”


Discourse also includes style. How do people argue about your topic on social media, in

newspaper and website editorials, and in peer-reviewed journals? For example, on

social media people often use memes to make arguments. Each of these contexts are

different. I want you to analyze them and include that in your analysis.

Respond to the arguments. Explain which arguments you find convincing or not. Do

you share the same rhetorical frame? For example, do you frame the cost of college

issue as something that should be a guaranteed right, an economic necessity, a lack of

personal responsibility, etc…? What values are each argument based on? Does the

author support their argument with evidence that you find compelling? These are things

to consider and include in your response.

The sources you need to use for this assignment will likely be different than the sources

from the previous essay, because you are looking exclusively for arguments such as opinion

articles, editorials, arguments, and policy proposals. You need to look for arguments made in all

three source types: unedited, edited, and peer-reviewed. You need to find, summarize, and

respond to sources on different sides of the relevant arguments. You need at least six sources

for this assignment.

Assignment Requirements

– Use at least 6 sources (you can use sources from the last essay if relevant)

– You need sources that represent a range of opinion. They cannot all be on the same



– You must have at least one source from these three source types: unedited, edited, and


– You must follow MLA format for your essay and for all citations (in-text and Works Cited).

Consult the Purdue OWL’s MLA Formatting and Style Guide for guidance on format and


– Your essay must be at least 1,500 words

– This essay is worth 150 pts

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