Language is power

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English 1A

Section 1

English 1A: Paper #1
“Language is power” is a familiar refrain, referring to the idea that if one can master the use of language, one can achieve significant results. All three articles you read for this unit of the class (“TV News as Entertainment,” “The Rhetoric of Advertising,” and “Propaganda under a Dictatorship”) address how the power of language can influence or manipulate the audience to deliver a certain message. Your task in this paper is to describe how an example of language in the media exerts its “power” to achieve an effect. To do so, select one example of language in the media (such as a newspaper or magazine article, a print advertisement, a television commercial, a news broadcast, or a television show) and describe both the effect you believe the creator of your chosen example intended and the actual effect the piece had on you. In doing this, you should incorporate personal narrative or examples, a discussion of some of the rhetorical principles we discussed in class, and a discussion of how the ideas in at least one of the three readings relates to your argument.
Some tips to get you started:

  • As you can see above, this essay will require you to use three different writing skills: personal narrative, application of the rhetorical concepts we discussed in class, and synthesis of at least one of the readings with your main argument. Remember that a strong essay will weave these three elements seamlessly throughout the paper. One separate paragraph for each of these three elements will very likely result in a rather choppy five-paragraph essay.

  • When you are working on the rhetorical devices aspect of your paper, think about Aristotle’s three types of rhetoric (deliberative, epideictic, and forensic) as well as the types of support we discussed (enthymemes and examples). You might ask yourself questions such as: What type of rhetoric does the creator employ? How does he or she support his or her claim? With enthymemes? Examples? And how successful is the creator with his or her support?

  • Be sure to support your argument about what you perceive the creator’s intended effect is. Simply telling me that the Nike advertising team wants the audience to buy Nike shoes is not sufficient to make your argument; you need to discuss why you came to this conclusion. What in the example you chose made you draw this conclusion?

I will be evaluating your paper based on the CSUS English 1A grading rubric and the following criteria:

  • Content. Is your argument well thought-out and have you clearly examined the issue from all sides?

  • Clarity. Have you expressed your ideas in a straightforward manner? Does your paper demonstrate a clear main argument?

  • Organization. Does your paper have a strong and consistent structure?

  • Grammar/mechanics/usage. Is your paper free of major errors and typos? Have you proofread the final draft?

Your paper should be at least three to four pages typed, double-spaced, with a one-inch margin on all sides, and a font size no larger than 12-point. Heading and page numbering should follow MLA format. (See your Penguin Handbook for help with MLA formatting.) You may use Times New Roman, Arial, or a similar font—no Courier, please! All citations should be in MLA format, and the final draft of your essay should include a Works Cited page in proper MLA format. There is no maximum page length for this essay, but you should not feel obligated to write more than the required three to four pages if you don’t feel it is necessary for your argument. A six-page essay is no more likely to receive an A than a well-written three-page essay.

Due dates:

  • Draft 1: Friday 2/18 (Please bring three copies to class for workshopping.)

  • Draft 2: Friday 2/25 (You are required to turn in a clean second draft along with a copy of a first draft of your essay. You are also required to turn in all of the peer response forms you received from your in-class workshop.)

  • Draft 3: Friday 3/11 (Your essay is due at the beginning of class, along with the second draft of your essay containing my comments.)

Happy writing, and please feel free to come to me with any questions you might have.

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