“Idiot Nation” Analysis

Overview of Project 1 – “Idiot Nation” Analysis

For this essay, you will be addressing several rhetorical elements in Michael Moore’s “Idiot Nation.” You should refer to the prompt itself for all of the details, but, in essence, you will identify and analyze the following:

· The author’s overall argument

· Three claims the author makes to support the argument

· At least one strategy used for each claim (with an explanation of why and how that strategy is utilized)

· A discussion of who the author’s audience is and how the author tries to connect with and influence that audience

Structure (Introduction)

Your introduction should have the following:

· A brief discussion about the topic that the article is addressing (in this case, the topic of education). What sort of problems have been coming up in the educational system?

· An introduction of the author and the text. Who is the author? You could even give a little background here (“award-winning director,” for example). What is the name of the text? How is the text connected to the topic you just mentioned?

· What is the author trying to accomplish with their text? What is the author’s argument?

· An overview/summary of the text.

· Your thesis statement, which tells your reader what you will be doing in this essay.

Structure (Body Paragraph – Claims, Evidence, and Strategies )

· Begin with a lead-in (transition) to the claim

· Introduce one of the supporting claims the author makes to back up his or her argument.

· Provide evidence for that claim by using a quote from the text. Remember, evidence must be specific – a specific person, place, event, etc. – not just a general statement.

· Then, explain what strategy is utilized to help make the claim more persuasive.

· Identify the strategy

· Give a quote showing and explaining HOW the strategy is utilized.

· Explain WHY the strategy is used – what is the author trying to accomplish?





Structure (Body Paragraph – Audience Context )

When discussing the audience, use the following questions as a guide:

· Who is the author’s intended audience? Try to get as specific as possible. In other words, don’t just say something general like “Americans” or “adults.” Think of what might be applicable: age, gender, race, education level, nationality, political views, etc.

· Provide proof (quotes) that the author is, in fact, addressing those specific groups. For example, what political party (Democrats or Republicans) does Moore write to? How do you know? Does he:

· Have a specific tone?

· Use a certain style of language?

· Address the audience directly?

· Try to relate to the audience?

· Why would the author pick such an audience to write to?


Your conclusion should recap the main ideas that you presented in your essay. Usually, it’s a good idea to give a 1-2 sentence overview of each of your body paragraphs (3-6 total sentences), and then conclude with a more general statement about the topic. Think of doing the opposite of your introduction. If your introduction starts off general and goes to specifics, then your conclusion should go from specific to general.

Things to Keep in Mind

When introducing a new paragraph, your transition should:

· Typically be at the beginning of the new paragraph or at the end of the previous paragraph.

· Connect the focus of the new paragraph to the previous one.

· Example: Say you’ve finished a paragraph about Moore’s discussion of politicians and are starting a new paragraph on his discussion of funding. What is the connection between politicians and funding?

· “Because of politicians’ lack of regard for education, many schools have been severely impacted by a lack of funding.” That could be a potential transition to use at the beginning of your new paragraph.

-Use strong verbs (avoid words like “uses,” “says,” “states,” “does”).

-Avoid dropped quotes (a quote that is its own sentence).

– Example: “I love football!” (dropped quote)

-Fixed: She exclaimed, “I love football!”

-If you end a sentence with a parenthetical citation, the period goes AFTER the parenthesis.

-Example: She declared, “I love football!” (5).

-Titles of short works (articles, chapters, poems, essays, etc.) go in quotation marks (“A Modest Proposal”). Titles of longer works (books, movies, etc.) go in italics (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

-The title of your essay needs to be strong, since it’s the first thing your reader will see. A typically strong format is as follows:

“Quote from text that relates to your topic”: Topic of your Essay

For example, look at the second page of “Idiot Nation.” We can use a quote from Moore from the paragraph in the middle of the page:

“A nation that should not be running the world”: A Rhetorical Analysis of Michael Moore’s “Idiot Nation”

This title is a lot stronger than something like “Essay 1” or “Moore Analysis.” The quote at the front presents a sense of urgency, which makes your analysis seem even more important. Also, your title lets your reader know what your essay is about (what text, whose text, and what kind of analysis). Try incorporating something similar (not word-for-word) for your essay title.


Please refer to the next page for a sample body paragraph for Moore’s “Idiot Nation.” You may NOT use this claim (and related evidence/strategies) for your essay.


Sample Paragraph for Essay 1 (Moore’s “Idiot Nation”)

This sample paragraph focuses on Moore’s claim about parents. Assume that the paragraph before this was on corporations – you’ll see a connection between corporations and parents in the transition in the very beginning.

In contrast with the rise of corporate funding, parental involvement in children’s education has decreased. Moore claims that parents are part of the problem with the current system since they often fail to prioritize their children’s academic success. He provides a specific example from his own childhood as proof by describing how he was presented with the opportunity to skip a grade, but his mother interfered: “I could hear my mother on the phone explaining to the Mother Superior that there was no way her little Michael was going to be attending class with kids bigger and older than him” (148).  Through this example, Moore establishes how his mother was more concerned about his social standing as the smallest child in class rather than his academic ambitions and accomplishments. While Moore’s mother was relieved by her son being spared from moving up a grade, Moore feels differently. His anger and frustration with this situation is indicative of pathos as he explains “my parents had it all wrong or those weren’t really my parents,” and “I was crushed” to show his disappointment in his mother’s priorities (149). Moore’s emotional reaction demonstrates how children can and do care a great deal about their education, yet it is the adults who play a part in holding them back. By showing this, Moore attempts to guilt misguided parents into becoming more involved in their children’s schooling and supporting—rather than repressing—their children’s academic mobility.

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