A Source-Based Essay: Assignment Sheet

Essay #1: Source-Based Essay on Genre, Audience, and Rhetorical Situation

Assignment Resources

Goals for this Assignment

With this assignment, we want to familiarize you with the rhetorical terms that we list above. We will use these rhetorical terms throughout the semester; they form the basis of the course. Throughout the course, we want to develop your understanding of how rhetoric and writing function in social contexts. We hope that you’ll take this knowledge and apply it when you encounter writing assignments in other classes and in the workplace. We also want to familiarize you with CCNY’s academic databases. You already know how to search for material on the open web; a better understanding of how to make use of academic databases will expand the range of materials to which you have access.

Technical Details

For this assignment, you will write a source-based article in which you will analyze and make connections between the concepts of rhetorical situation, purpose, audience, genre, and stance. For this analysis, you will choose four sources that you have found on the social justice issue of your choice (keeping in mind that “social justice” in our context is very broadly defined, as discussed in class). You should have at least four sources, and they should include a web site (including social media posts), a magazine article, a newspaper article, and a scholarly source. With the exception of the website, you must locate your sources within CCNY’s academic databases. We recommend that you use Academic One File, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, and the National Newspaper Index, but the choice is up do you.

For each article you choose, then, you will provide a brief summary, describe its rhetorical situation, purpose, audience, genre, and the writer’s stance toward their subject. [EDIT: Your rhetorical analysis–your discussion of your source’s rhetorical situation, purpose, audience, genre, and stance–has two parts. When you identify, for example, the writer’s purpose, you’ll want to tell us both what that purpose is (to inform, to persuade, to argue, and what have you), and also what in the text tells you what the purpose is. If, for example, I think the article’s purpose is to inform, it’s likely because the article doesn’t really express any opinion on its topic. To complete your rhetorical analysis, you’re going to want to look at both the article you chose and the overall publication. Looking at the publication’s web site will give you a lot of information about your article’s purpose and audience.] You will then make connections between the various articles that you analyze. While these examples aren’t exact models of what your essay should look like, they describe some of the same rhetorical elements that you’ll describe (remember: you’ll focus on the rhetorical elements listed on this assignment sheet). Another big difference is that the examples don’t move beyond analysis of individual articles to make connections between articles–what are the similarities and differences?

Once you have completed your essay, you will also write a 2-3 page reflection piece in which you begin to develop your own theory of writing, considering the concepts of genre, audience, and rhetorical situation, and how they connect.


As in the examples above, you’re describing a series of articles. Instead of making an argument, as school essays often do, you’re exploring your sources from a rhetorical perspective. The essay should include:

  • A general introduction, that tells the reader what your subject is
  • Rhetorical analyses of four sources
  • Your thoughts about the relationships between the rhetorical elements of your sources

Length: 4-5 pages (1,000-1,250 words)

Submission: Through Blackboard (we’ll go through the process in class)


  • February 6: Discuss Essay #1: Source-Based Essay on Genre, Audience, and Rhetorical Situation
  • February 6: In-class research with CCNY’s academic databases
  • February 8: Post links to your sources
  • February 13: Post first draft of source-based essay
  • February 13 and 15: Peer review of source-based essay draft
  • February 20: Final Draft of Source-Based Essay; in class Theory of Writing Reflection