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ENGL 110: Rhetorical Situation Analysis: 1. The RSA

The Rhetorical Situation Analysis

The Rhetorical Situation Analysis

  • Rhetoric: the art of effective, persuasive speaking or writing; produced by a text
  • Situation: the context of the piece (historical context, purpose, audience)
  • Analysis: close reading/thesis statement/evidence/research
  • Text/Artifact: anything that can be analyzed or studied for meaning.

In other words: You will be choosing a text, examining it’s context, and then conducting an analysis to determine if you think it’s rhetoric is persuasive.

Outline for the RSA

  1. Introduction
  2. Historical Background/Context
    1. Social history or context out of which of the artifact
    2. Exigence
    3. Audience
    4. Constraints
  3. Analysis: Argument
    1. Logos, Pathos, Ethos
    2. Literary Devices
  4. Conclusion
    1. You state whether you think the rhetoric was successful in accomplishing its intended goal of persuading its audience
    2. The “So what?” question about your topic is answered

Writing your RSA

Remember that your introduction should:

  1. Introduce your artifact and explain why you are analyzing it
  2. Identify the way in which the artifact addresses an aspect of sustainability
  3. Contain a 3-part thesis statement
  4. Thesis should mention the three literary devices which will be analyzed
  5. Mentions and shows a pic/screenshot/image of the artifact on very first page ONLY


  1. Avoid platitudes or a soft opening
  2. The opening should be clear, concise, and related to the rest of the paper’s topic as it relates to the artifact.
  3. The opening should situate the reader in the midst of an engaging thought or action that aptly frames the narrative of the paper.
  4. Outlines the general structure that your paper will take

To write a thesis statement, you must use the context to form your argument:

Remember that a thesis statement ALWAYS has three parts: WHAT/WHO are you analyzing, HOW is it attempting to persuade, and WHY?

Begin Body of Analysis by Identifying:

  1. Logos: arguing from a point of reason and logic (it’s what you naturally assume the audience will get or understand OR facts, statistics, data, and other information that that most people agree with or that can be easily verified)
  2. Pathos: the way the text attempts to appeal to its audience by evoking some type of emotion from its readers (humor, music, pictures, wording, colors, editing)
  3. Ethos: how the text builds its credibility, rapport, and likability with its audience
  4. To go further in your analysis, make sure you consult the “Common Literary Devices” handout that is available on Oaks. You are also free to use any literary devices not included in this list.

You Need an Effective Conclusion:

After analyzing your artifact, you must have a conclusion that answers whether or not you thought the artifact was persuasive in achieving its intended goal and answers the “SO WHAT?” of the article.

Elena Rodriguez, Instruction Coordinator

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Elena Rodriguez
Addlestone Library, Room 101