Any Clear Research Question (Up to Writer)


This assignment asks for a 1500-2100-word (5-7 page) essay—11-12-point font,
one-inch margins, double-spaced, Times New Roman—in which you will write an analysis
of an artifact, applying one of class’ first four methods and incorporating at
least four sources (see below).


You are welcome to extend an analysis started in your two short
write-ups. Indeed, you are encouraged to do so, but you should not feel
obligated as such. The purpose of
this assignment is for you to practice your ability to put forth a clear argument, developed through a more in-depth
analysis than your write-up assignments. Think through the essay in terms of
justification (of artifact/method), reasonable inference (in terms of backing
up/linking your claims in your analysis with evidence), and coherence (clarity
of writing/argument). (See Foss, pages 24-26.)


Parts of the essay:

For each method, when writing an essay, Foss lays out the
same key components:

1) Introduction, including your
research question, the contribution, and the significance 2) Description of the
artifact and its context (plus justification: why important?)

3) Description of the method (plus
justification: why insightful?)

4) Analysis, or the application of
the method to the artifact and a report of its findings

5) Conclusion, including what your
analysis might contribute to rhetorical theory 

Make sure you cover
each of these parts. The analysis
section should be about half the


Grading Criteria:

The essay will be graded on the following criteria: coverage
of each section (out of 35 points); clarity of your arguments and essay flow
(75 points); and grammar (40 points).

Coverage: Does your paper
address each part of the critical essay?

            Do the
descriptions of your artifact and method give enough background, so that you
justify your choices and that an unfamiliar reader can understand your

Is the analysis at least half of
the paper?

Clarity: Does each part of
the essay flow logically into the next?

Do your research question/thesis,
analysis, and conclusion all build the general claim you are making?

            Do you
argue effectively that this is an important artifact to study? 

Do you build a case that your
method is an effective way to analyze this artifact?

Is it clear why you are referencing
the sources you have (see “sources” below)? Do you cite something when making a
claim that requires backing?

Do you build a coherent link between your artifact, the method you choose, and
your analysis?

Grammar: Are there a minimal
number of grammatical mistakes?

            Do you
properly cite sources when you quote or paraphrase someone else’s points? Do
you include a page number? Is there a reference page, and is it in a consistent

            Do you
follow the formatting rules outlined at the beginning of this rubric (font
size, etc.)?

Additional Information to Consider:



You may incorporate aspects of other methods; for instance,
in a cluster analysis, you may incorporate aspects of metaphor and
Neo-Aristotelian to enhance your discussion of cluster. However, do make sure
to follow one method as your main focus, and you must make
an argument for why other elements,
if present, offer support to the overarching


Organizing Components:

Make sure you cover
each of the five parts. You are not required
to have section headings for each of
these parts, though you might find that useful. For instance, some sample
readings will have a paragraph description of the artifact (but not an isolated
artifact section), followed by a
paragraph description of the method (but not an isolated method section). You may follow that format, or
you may break it into sections, as headings are a good way to make sure you
cover each part. Overall, though, craft an essay that flows from one portion to the next. Try to order it in a way that enhances the clarity of your analysis.
Also, make sure that your analysis
is the largest portion of the paper; it should be at least half of the essay (anywhere from 2.5 – 4.5 pages depending
on the total length of your paper). 

You are also welcome to switch the order of the artifact and method portions.
Flow is key.



You are expected to include at least four (4) academic sources in this paper to situate your
analysis, with in-text citations and consistency in following APA, MLA, or
Chicago style. You are welcome to add more but are not required. Below I offer
a few suggestions on where to look. These sources should reflect what has been
written on: a) your topic; and b) your method of
criticism. Include at least one outside academic source from each area. To method,
you are welcome to use one or two sources from the sample readings assigned for
class, but if you do so make sure you cite at least one more article that
utilizes your method. At that point, you are only required two additional
sources, with at least one related to the topic area.

To illustrate: Say you choose metaphor as your method in order to analyze a museum space. You may use the architecture piece from
Kanengeiter-Wildeson (in Foss, pp. 310-313) to explain how someone else has
used metaphor to look at spaces, or to show how you might be improving on that
analysis. To satisfy the outside source requirement, you could also reference
one of the Ivie pieces mentioned in Wood’s “additional samples” link (see: to explain a model for using metaphor. Then you would need at least
two more sources. At least one would need to be something written about the
rhetoric of museum spaces (the topic). (There are plenty, including a later
class reading; see Foss, pp. 253-272.) The other could also be about museums,
especially your specific museum if you can find anything written about it.
These would count as your four references: Kanengeiter-Wildeson, Ivie, and two
topical references on museum spaces. Similarly, you could make your fourth
source another outside article on metaphors. On the flip side, you could look
to Ivie for one source on the method (metaphor) and have three sources on the
topic (museums).

Regardless of what you choose, make sure at least one of your methods and at
least one of your topical sources comes from outside the syllabus. I will
explain this setup more in class.

Also, any non-academic references that you can find, such as
any newspaper articles written on your topic, may help your analysis and are often
necessary, but do not add to the four required sources. How many contextual
sources you need will depend on how you are building your argument.


Final note on sources: Do
not worry at this point if you do not find the most important works on your
topic, or if there do not seem to be things written on your topic in a direct,
explicit sense. As long as you bring in closely related readings and point out
why they relate, or in what ways they enhance your argument, that work is
sufficient for this paper. The longer paper will require more extensive
research but will also be aided by library tutorials, a proposal and context
assignment, and an annotated bibliography assignment. The use of references for
this paper is designed to get you
started. We will discuss the above-mentioned requirements more in class.