Project 1

ENGW1111 Fall 2018
Project 1

Rhetorical Analysis of a Museum or Monument

For this assignment, you will conduct a rhetorical analysis of a museum exhibit or public monument in the Boston area. The first step is to choose an object to analyze; you cannot write about an exhibit we have covered in class. Below are resources to help you decide where you might go to find a topic to write about:


In selecting your topic, keep in mind you want to be able to make a compelling argument and support it with close reading and evidence. For example, “Make Way for Ducklings” might seem funny or cute, but you might have trouble analyzing it for 1000 words. You also shouldn’t analyze an entire museum if you visit one—that is beyond the scope of this project. Instead, you should choose one exhibit (a collection of items organized around a theme) or even just one object that you have a lot to say about. Additionally, I do not want you to have to spend money to complete this project. You may be comfortable paying admission fees, which is fine. However, many of these museums offer student discounts or are free on certain days, so look into that before going.
When you visit your museum or monument, you should take notes on the rhetorical strategies at work. Some specific questions to consider:


• What is the history or context of your object?
• What has the reception of your object been? Is it viewed positively? Has it provoked debate or controversy?
• Where is it located? Is it easy to get to?
• Who can visit it? Are there fees?
• How is the object designed or laid out? How does that affect the visitor?
• What is the purpose of your object? How do you know?
• Who is the audience for your object? How do you know?
• How is the object appealing to its audience? (Think logos, pathos, and ethos).
• Is the object persuasive/does it accomplish its purpose? How do you know?
• Would someone who is not the intended audience interpret the object differently?
• Who designed the object? What might that say about the object itself?
• What is missing or what is not displayed? Is anything being left out in the story your object is trying to convey?
You’re not limited to these questions—other things may come to mind during your visit. Your paper should not read like bullet point answers to each of these questions.
Once you’ve considered your answers to these questions, you will then form an argument that is debatable and can be supported by evidence from your observations. You want a thesis statement that has more than one interpretation because that is more thought provoking and interesting to a reader than a one-sided argument. For example, you could theoretically argue the MFA is located on Huntington Ave. But of course it is! There’s no conversation there or analysis involved. You want to go beyond what is obviously true and do more than say whether or not you liked the exhibit. We will talk more about thesis statements and workshop this project’s thesis statements in class.
Finally, you also want to consider the larger implications of your argument and supporting evidence. It might help to answer the questions “so what” and “who cares.” Think of your writing as going beyond a class assignment. Who else might your analysis matter to and why?
This assignment doesn’t require outside sources, but if you use any outside material, please include it on a separate works cited page and use a proper citation format (MLA preferred).

Length: ~1000 Words

First Paragraph/Thesis Statement Due: September 21st

Peer Review: September 28th

Final Draft Due: October 2nd