Rhetorical Analysis Essay Prompt


Informative! Your argument will be based on your use of analytical reasoning and specific evidence. Your genre is academic essay, and so you will produce a thesis-driven analysis, complemented by secondary sources, about World War Z.

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about genre, let’s talk about historical context and/or audience. Or both!

This time, you must write a rhetorical analysis about World War Z and how it reflects/comments on its historical situation or cultural context, either as a) a function of its genre (because that’s what horror does), or b) by specific appeals to its original audience.

You can choose a specific section (like “Blame”) to focus on, or write about a particular character or set of characters, or trace one character’s development through the novel (like Todd Wainio, who has three interviews devoted to him). This may require you to read ahead.

You may use pieces of your CRRP, revised and repurposed as necessary. You may also write something entirely new.

Think of yourself as joining a conversation about WWZ and zombies and the cultural relevance of zombie apocalypse fiction. To that end, you must include at least three secondary sources, which can include the articles from class. Expect to do a little research. You need credible sources (not Wikipedia).

Basic requirements
The length of the essay should be 6-7 pages. It will be typed and double-spaced, and presented in MLA format. A total of three (3) secondary sources, not including World War Z, must be used to develop the essay. You can use the articles from class, if appropriate. A working bibliography with source annotations (again, you can use the ones we did in class, if they’re appropriate!) will be required as part of the final draft.

The Teacher’s comment:
I think you need to do a little reorganizing. Your intro needs to show how Dawn and WWZ connect to each other through your thesis. It sounds like you want to show how the scientist in Dawn brings no hope, and thus people resist him, and contrast that with Elliot. Make that clear in the intro. I think you also should focus more on Elliot himself, and his POV/character/details, and connect that to the Golden Age analysis. I see the connection, and I think you do, but it’s not actually written there on the page.

A Working Thesis In Three Steps

1.  Choose Z your rhetorical frame–genre, historical context, audience. (There may be overlap).  This is the why.

2. Find X and Y

  • X: What the text is communicating
  • Y: How the text is communicating (the rhetorical device(s) used by the rhetor to present the What to the audience — cultural references, imagery, POV, particular scenes or characters)

3. Describe how X, Y, and Z are related in as much detail as possible.

X: critique of American values and consumerism and the Bush administration

Y: Troy, Montana/Mary Jo Miller (from “Blame”)–uses a “successful” woman (home, family, disposable income) to tell story of home invasion/destruction of a successful American family (terrorism fears) as being the fault of family’s misplaced priorities

Z: genre and context: because according to Bishop, horror must be culturally relevant, and the zombie is a symbol of consumerism, and because post 9/11 Americans were urged to shop, rather than concerning themselves with the wider world and politics


In “Blame,” Max Brooks uses the Mary Jo Miller interview to critique American consumerism. He does this by having Miller, a successful architect, wife, and mother (the epitome of the American Dream) describe her family’s concerns and routines as the zombie plague was just beginning to juxtapose the irrelevancy of those concerns with the obvious priorities of the real world. The end of the scene, in which Miller’s home is invaded and her family destroyed, suggests that American consumerism is to blame (chapter title ref) for the tragedy, relevant to an American which was urged to shop after 9/11 and carry on as if the world were normal.


The Body Paragraph:

  • The Top Bun:
    • Is the first sentence a description of WHAT happens in World War Z? –because we don’t want that!
    • Does it make a claim about HOW the text works?
  • The Condiments (evidence):
    • Is there evidence from the text or secondary sources (the WHAT) supporting that topic sentence?
    • Is it cited in MLA format? Is it properly paraphrased, summarized, and/or integrated into the text using the Three-Step Method from the AGWR?
    • If there are several pieces of evidence, are they clearly connected to each other and to the central point of the paragraph?
  • The Veggie Patty (Analysis)
    • Does the paragraph show HOW that evidence works, and For What Purpose, or does it let the evidence speak for itself?
    • Is there at least twice as much analysis as evidence?
    • Does the analysis clearly connect the evidence to the essay’s central argument?
  • The Bottom Bun (Conclude and Transition):
    • Does the paragraph clearly state the what the reader is supposed to understand from the evidence, and how that relates to the thesis/main argument?
    • Does this paragraph set us up logically for the next paragraph’s topic sentence? In other words, does the transition connect the claims/arguments made in the paragraphs to each other?

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