The Columnist Assignment:
An Ongoing Project
As a part of your pursuit of becoming well-informed citizens and critical consumers of media, you will be responsible for multiple formal analyses of current, relevant columns/columnists for the rest of the year. The guidelines are as follows:
- One analysis per six weeks will be required. You may do one more, if you choose, for extra credit. Reviews may be turned in at any time, but the deadline will be the Friday before the last week of the grading period. Each column must be dated within the given grading period, beginning the Sunday before the grading period begins. Essays must be typed and printed using MLA format.
- Your review will include the following three components:
- Begin with a brief (one paragraph) synopsis of the column you have chosen, including a concisely quoted—or paraphrased—thesis statement (underline this!).
- Following this, you will provide a brief personal commentary on the content of the piece (also one paragraph).
- Finally, and most importantly, you will provide a stylistic (rhetorical) analysis of the work. In other words, you will discuss how the argument was crafted, focusing on how the author convinces audience of their PURPOSE (hint: that thesis statement you found in section A). This will be a full, multi-paragraph essay. In this study you could include items such as, but not limited to:
- Intended audience
- Author’s attitude toward the scene/event (bitterness, irony, sincerity, etc.)
- Diction (consider connotations of words, types of verbs/nouns/adjectives etc.
- Syntax (complex/simple, shifts, etc.)
- Organization of the piece (fluency, length/variety of paragraphs, etc.)
- Shifts of any kind (tone/speaker/tense/etc.)***
- Conspicuous figurative language
- Overall purpose or theme
- Anything else stylistically striking about the piece
Remember: the what and how are important, but not as much as the why.
- Include a full bibliography with your analysis (MLA format, please). This can go at the bottom of your analysis; it is not necessary to provide a separate works cited page. Please see OWL (the Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University for assistance.
- Staple the article, close-read, to the back of the page
Cordray, Richard. “Let Consumers Sue Companies.” The New York Times, The
New York Times, 22 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/opinion/let-consumers-sue-companies.html.
Section A: 10 Points
- Is there a summary paragraph and did the student find the author’s thesis?
Section B: 10 Points
- Do they have an opinion on the topic and is it presented using academic language, concisely and respectfully?
Section C: 70 Points (High: 70, Medium: 60. Low: 50)
- Is there a full-length essay that focuses on the author’s purpose?
- Does the essay avoid mere summary?
- Does the essay stay on topic and not divert into a rant or tirade?
- Is their evidence from the article specific, well-chosen, and focuses the reader into a specific location of the article to discuss why the author is using a rhetorical strategy?
- Is there a strong level of writing? (varied syntax, high level word choice, well-chosen structure, persuasive)
Full Bibliography (Works Cited): 10 Points
Sample MLA formatted paper:
- Is the works cited present and have all necessary components?