For today's class session, you will peer-review two of your fellow students' rhetorical/comparative analyses.
To begin, I will place you in groups of three people; these will be students who are not part of your small, research group. At this juncture, you will trade essays with your group members.
Read the first essay, straight through, without commenting, annotating, or marking up the analysis. Once you've read through the entire essay, answer the questions below. All your answers should be in complete sentences; likewise, the questions that require you to provide alternatives or suggestions should be composed in such a way that they could actually be integrated in the framework of the final draft.
After you've complete your review of the first essay, perform the same process on your second group members' analysis. Once you've completed two peer-reviews, have a group discussion that addresses the concerns each essay raised for you. Perform both reviews before having this discussion.
If something does not make sense in the analysis you're reading, wait until your discussion to chat about it. Do not ask for clarification during the review process.
Does the writer open his/her essay with a brief description of the topic that the articles they've selected address? If so, do they attend to the topic in a clear manner? The topic they've selected should be more refined than an "umbrella" topic: it should be precise, specific, and encompass an appropriate range and scope for a RadioLab-style project. If your peer has not addressed their topic in a clear and concise fashion, compose a paragraph that does so; if your peer has not weened their topic down to something manageable, provided a list of suggestions that do so. Even if your peer has achieved the above goals, compose a few alternative sentences (in your own words) that state, outline, or describe the topic differently.
Does the writer clearly articulate the relationship that their articles a) have to the topic and b) to one another? To this end, does the writer explicitly state the thesis and supporting arguments of both articles? Provide alternative sentences that describe this relationship. Does the writer offer a summary of both articles? Likewise, how does the writer transition between his/her descriptions or summaries of the articles? Are the transitions clear and logical; do they offer a readily identifiable "bridge" from one article to the next? Whether or not you feel that the writer has accomplished these tasks, create several alternative transitions (again, using your own words).
Finally, does the writer conclude the introduction with a clearly defined thesis statement? What is it? Having read the essay once already, re-write the thesis statement using your own language that more accurately explains what the remainder of the essay accomplishes. If the essay does not clearly articulate a thesis, create one from scratch.
Create a conceptual outline for the body of your peers' essay. The roman numerals should correspondence to each paragraph, and the capital letters should correspond to each sentence. Each roman numeral and capital letter should articulate the "concept" to which each paragraph or sentence attends. If something does not make sense, be sure to annotate it in the outline. After creating the outline, write a paragraph about the body's internal logic. Does it make sense? Are there aspects of or moments in the body that do not function logically or transition smoothly? How can you alter the structure of the body so as to improve its form?
Has the writer incorporated quotes directly from the two articles they've chosen? Have they incorporated them in the correct manner? Guidelines for proper in-line citations can be found on the OWL site. Correct any improper citations; annotate any that you are unsure about.
In addition to incorporating citations, does the author state explicitly why they've included those particulars moments in the primary texts? To this extent, are they articulating what words, syntax, elements of tone or style, formal characteristics, or rhetorical strategies they find to be notable? If not, make detailed suggestions. If they have, compose a series of sentences that develops a clearer and more specific explanation.
In many regards, the conclusion is the focal point of this analysis; by that I mean, it should expound upon the differences within the two primary texts, addressing the underlying ideological and rhetorical reasons for the differences between the texts. To this extent, the conclusion should not summarize the material that came before it. Rather, it should answer the "So what?" question: in other words, how do these differences within these text function, and what are their effects? Does the writer accomplish this task? If not, offer suggestion for how he/she might address these concerns; if they have, create alternative sentences or paragraphs that do so more effectively.
Finally, does the writer create a connection between his/her topic and the ideological or rhetorical concerns of the articles? In other words, what kind of biases and effects do the articles display with regard to their language use, and how do these characteristics necessarily influence the manner in which audiences will perceive or think about the issues being addressed? Provide a series of suggestions on how the writer could accomplish this task more effectively.