Rhetoric and discourse both refer to verbal or written exchange and expression. While rhetoric is mainly persuasive, discourse is broader and often encourages further discussion and examination of different views. Essentially, discourse is the communication of thoughts and formal discussion of a subject by words.
In considering discourse, ask:
Assignments in this course may involve researching and analyzing how a particular societal issue is understood through discourse. The purpose of these assignments is to help you learn more about how we use discourse differently and how discourse shapes our understanding of particular issues.
Things to consider when you analyze discourse:
Please remember that the focus of the assignment is ANALYZING DISCOURSE, not the topic. You should focus on WHO is writing and speaking, WHY they are doing so, and HOW the resulting discourse impacts or has impacted the issue.
The table below illustrates the difference between research questions for the discourse analysis paper vs. the argumentative paper.
|Topic||Argument on the Topic||Analysis of Discourse|
|Cars and pollution||Should US automakers spend more money and research to make cars less harmful to the environment?||
If your assignment focuses on a discourse around a topic or issue and you will be essentailly comparing multiple discourses, please watch the video below. It will provide an explanation of the focus of this assignment, tips on finding sources, and suggestions on analyzing the sources you find.
Clickable bookmarks to take you to the "chapters" of this video (total duration: 20 min. 25 sec.)
Introduction (27 sec.)
Choosing a topic for this project (1 min. 50 sec.)
The focus of your analysis (1 min. 18 sec.)
Finding your sources: brainstorming and focused search (2 min. 43 sec.)
Social media as sources (1 min. 14 sec.)
Broad searching: Google (30 sec.)
Using news articles (1 min. 46 sec.)
Broad searching: Summon (2 min. 40 sec.)
Finding texts in disciplines (3 min. 13 sec.)
How do I look at the sources? (50 sec.)
What do I do with my research? (1 min. 4 sec.)
Putting it all together (44 sec.)
Helpful resources (1 min. 30 sec.)