The Rhetorical Precis

The precis is designed to both summarize and evaluate a published work. It should provide both you and your reader with a tool that determines the rhetorical effectiveness of an essay. Highly structured in its five-sentence paragraph it records essential elements of written or spoken discourse. These elements include the name of the speaker/writer, the context of the delivery, the major assertion, the mode of development and/or support, the speaker/writer, and the audience (Woodworth 157).

Format:
MLA formatting should be adhered to regarding heading and documentation requirements. Be sure to include all the bibliographical information. See your handbook for specific instructions on citations.

Sentence 1: Name of author, genre, and title of work, date in parenthesis ; a rhetorically accurate verb such as “assert,” “argue,” “suggest,” “imply,” or “claim”; and THAT clause containing the major assertion (thesis statement) of the work.

Sentence 2: An explanation of how the author develops and/or supports the thesis , usually in chronological order.

Sentence 3: A statement of the author’s apparent purpose, followed by an “in order to” phrase.

Sentence 4: A description of the intended audience and/or the relationship the author establishes with the audience.

Sentence 5: A personal reaction--Was this work successful or unsuccessful in attaining its purpose? Why or why not?

Example:

Evans, Walter. “Monster Movies: A Sexual Theory.” Common Culture. 2nd ed. Eds. Michael Petracca and Madeline Sorapure. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998. 501-9.

In his essay, “Monster Movies: A Sexual Theory” (1998), Walter Evans asserts thatthe adolescent fascination with classic horror films is directly related to the onslaught of newly discovered physical and erotic drives. Evans illustrates his assertions by connecting the Wolfman, Frankenstein, and Dracula with the loss of innocence, the secret life of sex, and the adolescent’s own confusion. The author uses classic horror icons as a reflection of adolescent sexual frustration and confusion in order to explain to his audience about the troubled search for understanding found within the adolescent population. Evans focuses his attentions on an audience that is interested in horror movies and how it reflects aspects of society. While I see many of the connections that Evans makes between horror and the angst of adolescent sexual confusion I think that his conclusion places a highly judgmental and moralistic edge on the fates of both Mina and Lucy, and I feel that this might mar the primary focus of his argument.