Assignment Sheet
Project II – Exploring Interpretations in the Humanities -- Rhetorical Analysis of a Film Trailer


 Length and formatting: 5-7 pages
Papers must be in 12 pt. Times New Roman Font, double space with 1” margins and no enlarged periods.

Grading Weight
: 20%

Citation Style: MLA

Due Dates:
Rough Draft:Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Individual Conferencing Dates: Friday, February 18th & Monday, February 21st 2011

Peer Review: Tuesday, February 22nd 2011
In-Class Drafting Day: Thursday, February 24th 2011

Final Draft: Friday, February 25th 2011


 General Description & Purpose: Over the past few weeks, we have spent a majority of our time learning about the building blocks of rhetoric and practicing the tools of rhetorical analysis. For this assignment, you will select a movie trailer related to the article you selected for Project I, and write an essay in which you analyze the way the trailer deliberately uses rhetorical strategies to create a persuasive argument. This assignment requires you to focus on writing engaging and effective introductions and conclusions, to consider questions of tone, genre, audience, and purpose, and to identify examples of ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos at work in a text. This assignment also asks you to identify a specific argument made by the text – you must go beyond the somewhat simplistic and general argument that the trailer is making the argument that you must see this movie – and analyze the rhetorical strategies that are used to construct this argument.

Please note that for this project, you must select a theatrical trailer (or full‐length trailer, usually about 2 ½ minutes long) rather than a teaser trailer (which are often shorter in length, usually around a minute). The longer time and additional content of the theatrical trailer will give you more to analyze and discuss in your essay.

Audience: For this assignment, your audience should be film fanatics and your peers in ENG 101. Assume that everyone has a working knowledge of the rhetorical strategies (for example, then, you wouldn't need to define "pathos") but may not be familiar with the film you have selected. You would, therefore, have to provide a brief summary of the film's trailer to establish the context. In this instance, the "trailer" is the text from which you summarize what "they say."

Organization Criteria:

> Introduction: Make sure that you have an engaging title, an intriguing hook (according to one of the introductory strategies we have discussed), and a strong, clear thesis statement which identifies a specific argument and which also gives the reader a short map as to where you plan to go in the paper. (See your class notes for further details.) You must also identify the film the trailer is advertising, as well as the year it was released, the studio behind the production, and key actors, directors, producers, and writers (key background information).

> Body: The body of your text will be devoted primarily to furthering your argument and identifying the persuasive strategies you have identified in the trailer. Address the following topics listed below – see your class handout for more details. Remember: it is not enough to just answer the questions in a plug‐and‐chug format. You MUST answer them in a coherent manner, using the answers as evidence to fully support your thesis. How you choose to organize your paper is entirely up to you – remember: there is NO one right way to organize your essay.

> RHETORICAL APPEALS & KAIROS
> TEXT, NARRATION & DIALOGUE
> AUDIENCE
> TONE
> GENRE
> MUSIC
> ACTORS & EXECUTIVE TEAM
> IMAGERY

> Conclusion: In your conclusion, you should bring closure to your paper, and follow the reverse hourglass structure that we have discussed in class. Start narrowly, by restating your thesis, restating (NOT copying‐and‐pasting) the key points of your argument.

You should also comment on the effectiveness of the trailer in this section: would you go see the film advertised by the trailer? Why? Which of the rhetorical strategies which you identified did you, personally, find effective? Be sure to identify any biases by making it clear whether or not you were a part of the target demographic. Do you think the trailer would still be effective for someone not in the intended audience? Why or why not?

Finish by moving away from the narrow world of your essay and back into the “real world” by, for example, returning to your introductory hook.

Evaluation: I will be evaluating this paper based on your ability to articulate a specific argument made by your film’s trailer, to identify the persuasive strategies used in the trailer, and to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies. I will also be looking for engaging titles, effective introductory hooks, and appropriate conclusions, which follow the models and guidelines laid out in class. Please see the checklist for further information.