Peer Critique: Project #1, Rhetorical Analysis of an Education Film

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Peer Critique: Project #1, Rhetorical Analysis of an Education Film

Writer’s full name _________________________________________________

Critiquer’s full name _______________________________________________

1st or 2nd draft? _________________________________

  1. Critiquer: what are your immediate reactions and thoughts after reading the paper? What, right off the bat, do you like?

  2. Does the paper have a good title that helps you know what the piece will be about?

    Suggestions for the writer?

  1. How would you rate the introductory paragraph? Does it:

    1. Make clear what film is being analyzed? ________

    2. Make clear that what follows is an objective analysis of the argument being made in the film? ________

    3. In general prepare and stimulate you to read the rest of the paper? _______

If you answered “no” to any of the above, explain:

  1. Has the writer clearly stated the film’s key topic or issue related to education? What is that issue? (Some of the issued raised in Dangerous Minds, for example, might include, “What are the qualities of a great teacher?” “What is the most important element in any educational situation, particularly involving under-advantaged students?” “What is the ideal student-teacher relationship at the high school level?” “How should teachers and administrators deal with at-risk kids?” And so on.

  1. Has the writer clearly discussed the film’s rhetorical situation? Why was the film made, when was it made, who made it, what audience is it intended for, and/or any other relevant details?
    Does the film fit into any standard commercial categories? (Dangerous Minds, for instance, is a standard “Fish out of water” teacher story; or we could say that it fits a long tradition of Hollywood genre movies about naïve teachers who heroically take on dangerous or under-advantaged students.) Has the paper writer discussed any relevant or needed information about the film’s issue? Was the movie made in response to a recent social controversy? (A TV movie about campus sexual assault or school shootings would be an example of a film made in response to recent news.)

  1. Has the writer clearly addressed the movie’s rhetorical stance? That is, what is the film’s “angle” on its subject or issue? What position is it taking? What is it MAINLY saying about learning or education? Complete this sentence:

The movie primarily seems to be saying that ________________________________.

This should not be a point about anything at all, but rather a claim about something specifically related to education or learning.

If you had trouble completing the above sentence, discuss with the writer:

  1. What APPEALS does the movie use to persuade us that its main angle is valid?

    1. Logos

How does the film use REASON to persuade us that its thesis is valid? What specific scenes or details in the movie appeal to logic? (Note: you don’t want to simply show instances where characters themselves use reason, but rather show how the film-as-argument uses logic to convince us that its main point is true.) Examples might include cause-effect situations in the film, true-to-life historical facts, common sense examples, etc. (For instance, we could say that Dangerous Minds shows a high school principle who never seems to leave his office or even his desk; we are implicitly being asked to logically conclude that the school suffers student behavioral problems because administration officials don’t have enough human-to-human contact with students. It’s just common sense that, if administrators never interact with students for real, their policies will be out of touch and possibly harmful.)

    1. Pathos

How, according to the paper writer, does the film use EMOTION to persuade us that its angle is valid? What specific emotions are being evoked in the viewer? What specific scenes elicit those feelings in us? (Again, you want to show us how the film uses emotion to convince us that its primary point is valid.) Has the writer described specific scenes and moments in the movie with enough vivid detail that you can see them? (In Dangerous Minds, we see grief in LouAnne Johnson’s face upon hearing of a student death. We are prompted to feel that grief as well, and this feeling helps to convince us that the movie’s point—that students desperately need much more realistic, human interaction with teachers—is true.)

    1. Ethos

How well does the writer discuss the film’s ethos? Does the film have credibility? Do we have reasons to trust or distrust the filmmaker? Does the movie get its facts right? Does it handle opposing views fairly, allowing us to see what “the other side” things or feels? Etc. (Dangerous Minds has credibility because it is based on real-life events, because the film has excellent production values and acting, and because it is more realistic and gritty than other films made in its category.)

  1. Organization

    1. Does the rhetorical analysis have a clear beginning, middle, and ending?

    2. Paragraphs are not one of the CHIEF concerns of this assignment, but, if the writer’s paragraph seem to be unfocused or undeveloped, or lack transitions, comment below. (Note: a logical way to organize a rhetorical analysis is to provide one good, well-developed paragraph for each element being analyzed. That is, one for the rhetorical situation, one for rhetorical stance, one for each kind of appeal, and so on.

  1. Is the rhetorical analysis sufficiently objective? Remember that this assignment doesn’t ask you to EVALUATE or REVIEW the film you watched, but rather to impartially examine its parts and how they work. (A brief assessment at the end, however, is ok.)

  1. What sentences problems do you notice? Don’t correct them for the writer, but point them out. This can include unclear, wordy, or awkward constructions.

  1. Other comments, concerns, or suggestions to improve the essay? Thank you for your help!

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