Essay #4: Rhetorical Analysis of a TEDTalk

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English 1A

Essay #4: Rhetorical Analysis of a TEDTalk


Go to Choose one TED Talk that is either 12 or 18 minutes long. Note that there is a huge range of topics to choose from: technology, entertainment, design, business, science, global issues, medical, psychology, art, leadership, and much, much more.


Complete a CTA (close textual analysis) of the talk, in which you

  • explicate portions of the text thoroughly (close textual reading),
  • cite textual evidence to support your claims, making clear connections between your argument and the text you are referring to (analysis).

Many things go on simultaneously in a text. Tone, diction, syntax, argumentation, and theme all develop at once, and the reader is constantly being supplied with clues for reading these developments. Such textual events happen to the reader; they are the elements of the text that help develop meaning for the reader. (See questions below.)

  1. Choose a short passage of the TEDTalk:  about 50-100 words. Copy/paste the passage or retype it.
  1. Then, following the model, split the text into at least 10-20 sections, number the items (words, phrases, whole sentences, groups of sentences, etc.) to which you want to refer.
  1. Write a response in which you analyze the different sections of the textual event you identified. Work through the text in order, referring to your numbers. Be specific; do NOT merely write “develops tone,” but EXPLAIN WHY (ANALYZE) you made the particular notation and that event’s effect on the reader. Avoid paraphrasing (summarizing) the text. I will not give you credit for the assignment if you do not analyze the text. You should use the questions on the following page to help you along.

Part 3:

Write a 3-5 page well-structured essay that provides a rhetorical analysis of the TEDTalk of your choice. This will give you a chance to practice using all of the terminology from the first half of the semester and to display your ability to read actively.

  • Provide a summary of the talk.
  • Analyze 1-2 aspects of the writer’s rhetorical choices:
    • APPEALS: Analyze the writer’s appeal to his/her audience. How does the writer display an appeal to ethos, pathos and logos? Are these appeals utilized in a balanced manner? Are the appeals effective? Provide specific reference to the talk.
    • STRUCTURE: Analyze the writer’s structure. Does the writer utilize the classical structure? (Introduction/Exordium, Narration, Confirmation, Refutation, Conclusion/Peroration). If not, where does the writer deviate? How does this affect the writer’s argument? Provide specific reference to the talk.
    • TONE: What is the writer’s tone? How does this affect the writer’s argument? (See below for questions to help guide your analysis.)
    • STYLISTIC CHOICES: Analyze the writer’s style. Does the writer rely on figures of speech? Provide specific examples. How does the writer’s style affect his/her argument? (See below for questions to help guide your analysis.)
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