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AP Lang and Comp Study Session - PC__MAC

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APLanguageandCompositionStudySession Notes
Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Presenter NotesInorder to write aneffective essay, students must clearly understand the task given in the prompt.Oftenthe College Board will include information that will help students determine the author’s purpose and the intended audience.Studentsshould be encouraged to include prior knowledge from AP US History, documentaries, and personal reading.
Step One:Understanding thePrompt
Read the prompt and answer questions #1-4
Whowas Benjamin Banneker? From the information given in the prompt, what inferences can we make about him? What prior knowledge do you have of Banneker?The “son of former slaves” should indicate to students that Banneker was not a slave.His accomplishments in astronomy, mathematics, and surveying indicate that he was an intelligent and accomplished African American.Students should be encouraged to share any additional knowledge of Banneker, who owned a tobacco farm.
Step One:Understanding thePrompt
Whowas his intended audience? What inferences can we make about the connection between Banneker and his audience?The letter is to Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State.Students should realize that this was after Jefferson had penned the Declaration of Independence, but before he became the third President of the United States (1801-1809).Banneker is therefore very respectful of Jefferson’s position and authority in the first two paragraphs, yet bold enough to point out that Jefferson “should be found guilty of that criminal act” for his participation in slavery.While Jefferson supported the end of slave trade, he was a slave owner himself and very aware of the economic influence that abolition would have on plantation owners.
Step One:Understanding thePrompt
What is the historical significance of the year in which the letter was written?In 1791, the United States had only been free from British rule for a short time.The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, but the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution was signed in 1783.African Americans, both free and slaves, had fought on the side of the Americans and British during this war.
Step One:Understanding thePrompt
In your own words, complete thisstatement…Iam going to write an essaythat:explains how Banneker uses rhetorical devices to show Thomas Jefferson that he should help end slavery.
Step One:Understanding thePrompt
Step Two:Reading and Annotating thePassage
Read the passage to determine if there is a pattern to the author’s word choice.Isthe diction particularly positive or negative?Whichwords have certain connotations for the intended audience?Areany words repeated throughout the passage?Whatis the overall effect of the author’s word choice?Wouldthe author have chosen different words for a different audience?
Diction or Detail?Manytimes readers confuse the terms diction and detail.Thedistinction is in the number of words.Dictionrefers to one specific emotionally charged word that has meaning beyond the text.Adetailis a phrase of two or more words that provide description or facts for the reader.Detailscan also contain connotative diction for an emotional appeal.
Step Two:Reading and Annotating thePassage
Step Two:Reading and Annotating the Passage
Diction Associated with Slavery
servitude, exposeddangers, reduceconflict, inability
miraculous, tranquilityprovidential,mercifullypreservation, blessing
horrorsabhorrence (disgust)
life, libertyworthy, happiness,endowed
Step Two:Reading and Annotating thePassage
Details Associated with Slavery
“criminal act”“found guilty”“fraud and violence”“under groaning captivity”“cruel oppression”
“proper ideas”“valuation of liberty”“equal and impartial distribution”
AnalyzeBanneker’s pattern of diction and details to determine the author’s tone, and then complete the sentence below.Thenegative diction and details clearly show that Banneker isthat Banneker is _________, _________, and _______concerningthe issue of slavery, while the positive diction and detailsshow ______________________, ____________________, and _________________________ concerningthe need to end slavery.
Determining Tone
indignant
disdainful
furious
his compassionate feelings
his ecstatic hopefulness
his sublime and spiritual views
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
Before you write an effective essay, you must first clearly understand the meaning (content) of the text and the purpose of the text concerning the writer’s intended audience.Yourassignment is not to write a paper that identifies rhetorical devices, but to write a paper that explains why the writer uses certain rhetorical devices and how these devices affect the meaning of the text.
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
Paragraph OneThe words “you cannot but”(lines 9 and 11) show that Banneker believes that Jefferson has only one logical conclusion after he “recalls,”“looksback,” and “reflects.”Banneker’sconclusion is that:Jefferson must be gratefulthathe is no longer under the tyranny of the British.Jefferson must acknowledge his freedomisa blessing from heaven.
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
Paragraph OneWhat does Banneker accomplish with respect to his audience in paragraph one?Banneker implies to Jefferson that there is a similar situation between how the American colonists were treated under the tyranny of the British and how African Americans are being treated by white American colonists.He also implies with phrases like “providential preservation” and “mercifully received” that the liberty Jefferson enjoys is a gift from God.
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
ParagraphTwoWhatwords does Banneker quote in paragraph two?Words from the Declaration of IndependenceWhenwere these words written?1776Whyis this significant?Jefferson wrote these words 15 years before, yet he has not indicated by his actions or his political influence that he truly believes “all men are created equal.”Whatdoes Banneker accomplish with respect to his audience in paragraph two?Banneker again reminds Jefferson of the “horrors” and “injustice” of British tyranny. He then flatters Jefferson for writing the “true and valuable” beliefs in the Declaration of Independence. The phrase “that youpublicklyheld forth” sets the stage for Banneker’s upcoming rebuke in paragraph three.
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
ParagraphTwoUsethe fill-in-the-blank activity to summarize paragraph two.Mr. Jefferson, you obviously understood the_______of slavery. You found slavery so_________that you declared_______your belief that “All_____arecreated_____and should have the right to___,______,and the______of happiness.
injustice
detestable
publicly
men
equal
life
liberty
pursuit
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
ParagraphThreeTohelp you with a close reading of paragraph three, answer the following questions.1. What would an appropriate synonym be fortenderas used in line 26?compassionate2.Yourselvesin line 27 is a plural reflexive pronoun. To whom could it refer?Jefferson and the other political leaders of the time, the American colonists, the writers of the Declaration, Jefferson and other white Americans.3. What is the subject for the verbhad engagedin line 27?Time
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
ParagraphThreeTohelp you with a close reading of paragraph three, answer the following questions.4.Thusmeans “in the way just indicated.” What does the phrasethus to declare(line27) refer to?This statement relates to the previous paragraph where Banneker quoted Jefferson’s words from the Declaration so independence. Banneker reminds Jefferson again of his own words and tells Jefferson that “then” he had the “proper ideas.”5.Youcan be either a singular or plural pronoun. If the pronoun is singular in line 30, to whom could it refer? If it is plural, to whom could it refer?Jefferson (singular) / All white Americans (plural)6. What did Banneker mean by “entitled by nature”(line 31)?Because Jefferson was born white, he had privileges.
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
ParagraphThreeTohelp you with a close reading of paragraph three, answer the following questions.7. Re-write this sentence in normal word order:“…sir, how pitiable is it to reflect…”It is how pitiable to reflect8. Line 31-41 contain three dependent clauses introduced by the wordthat. List them.You were convinced, you should counteract, you should be found guilty.9. In lines 32-35, of what was Jefferson convinced?That in his kindness God had given all men the same rights and privileges.
Meaning, Purpose, Effect?
ParagraphThreeTohelp you with a close reading of paragraph three, answer the following questions.10. According to Banneker, how did Jefferson counteract God’s mercies (line 36)?If Jefferson truly believed that all men were created equal, then he would use his political influence to abolish slavery11. According to Banneker, what “criminal act” has Jefferson committed (line 40)?Jefferson watched as Banneker’s “brethren” were kept in slavery. He could also be referring to the fact that Jefferson himself owned slaves.12. What does Banneker accomplish with respect to his audience in paragraph three?In the beginning of paragraph three, Banneker is still very flattering to Jefferson and compliments his “proper ideas” about the value of freedom. However, Banneker’s tone shifts. In essence, he tells Jefferson he should be ashamed of himself for believing one way and behaving another.
Rhetorical Devices andStrategies
Often the words rhetorical devices and rhetorical strategies are used interchangeably.However, usually devices refer to the literary terms associated with rhetoric like anaphora, hyperbole, metaphor, etc.Rhetoricalstrategies are the persuasive techniques that a writer uses to craft his argument like ethical, logical, or emotional appeals.
Rhetorical Devices andStrategies
The repetition of “Sir” showsBanneker’s respect for Jefferson’sposition and his political influence.This politeness is necessary to offset theharshness of his words in paragraph 3.
The repetition of “time” remindsJefferson of a period in recent history when although he was a free man, he felt himself under bondage to Britishrule. It is a logical argument to remind Jefferson of a personalexperiencesimilar to Banneker’s cause.
The use of Biblical diction establishes acommon belief that Banneker andJefferson share. His reference to “theFather of mankind” implies both arechildren of the same heavenly fatherand as such should have the sameentitlements. By showing that hebelieves in the “blessing of heaven,” hefurthers an emotional appeal toJefferson’s Christian charity.

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AP Lang and Comp Study Session - PC__MAC