Reading Rhetorically

John C. Bean / Virginia A. Chappell / Alice M. Gillam  
Total pages
January 2013
Related Titles


Offering concise yet thorough treatment of academic reading and writing in college, Reading Rhetorically, 4th.ed., shows students how to analyze texts by recognizing rhetorical strategies and genre conventions, and how to incorporate other writers’ texts into their own research-based papers.


Four important features of this text:

1.    Its emphasis on academic writing as a process in which writers engage with other texts

2.    Its emphasis on reading as an interactive process of composing meaning

3.    Its treatment rhetorical analysis as both an academic genre that sharpens students' reading acuity and as a tool for academic research

4.    Its analytical framework for understanding and critiquing how visual texts interact with verbal texts


This brief rhetoric teaches students how to see texts positioned in a conversation with other texts, how to recognize a text's rhetorical aims and persuasive strategies, and how to analyze texts for both content and method.


The fourth edition of Reading Rhetorically is distinguished by the following features:


  • Assignments that emphasize strategies for writing about reading
  • Well-integrated “For Writing and Discussion” activities that foster active learning by asking students to apply concepts immediately
  • Explanations of classical rhetorical concepts as they apply to reading and critiquing both verbal and visual texts
  • Graphic presentation of composing processes from invention through peer review to editing
  • Treatment of research as a process of rhetorical reading in which students learn to develop research questions and evaluate sources within a rhetorical context
  • Emphasis on Question Analysis as a technique for planning research, with extensive excerpts from a sample student research log
  • A thorough discussion of how to evaluate sources, including Web sources and licensed periodicals databases
  • Presentation of citation methods as integral to rhetorical effectiveness and model citations included.



New to this Edition


  • Each chapter now opens with a list of learning objectives that clearly state what topics student should have mastered after studying the chapter.

  • New readings provide students with useful models for how to read rhetorically across a variety of genres (Chapters 2 and 3).

  • New, thought-provoking visuals have been added throughout that will promote class discussion and analysis,

  • Streamlined discussion of visual arguments help students prepare for engaging with similar materials found on the Web (Chapter 4).

  • Visual texts receive increased emphasis throughout the book, from visual arguments in Chapters 1 and 4 to new citation models in the Appendix.

  • Reorganized table of rhetorical aims (“A Spectrum of Purposes”) highlights a variety of undergraduate writing assignments across the curriculum (Chapter 2).

  • Boxed features concisely provide advice on such topics as analyzing an author’s purpose and exploring your own responses to a text (Chapters 3 and 4).

  • The MLA formatting guidelines have been updated with more examples of citing digital sources (Chapter 6 and Appendix).

Table of Contents



Chapter 1  

Reading to Write: Strategies for College Writing

What Do We Mean by “Reading Rhetorically”?

The Demands and Pleasures of Academic Reading

Reading and Writing as Conversation

            Joining the Conversation

            For Writing and Discussion

Reading and Writing as Acts of Composing

Reading Rhetorically as a Strategy for Academic Writing

            The Purposes of the Author Whose Text You Are Reading

            Your Own Purposes as an Active Reader/Writer

            Questions Rhetorical Readers Ask

            For Writing and Discussion

            An Extended Example: Researching the Promise of Biofuels

Chapter Summary


Chapter 2

Analyzing Your Reading and Writing Context

Rhetorical Context: Purpose, Audience, and Genre

            Analyzing an Author’s Purpose

            FWD on Table 2.1

            Identifying an Author’s Intended Audience

            Analyzing a Text’s Genre

            For Writing and Discussion

Analyzing Your Own Rhetorical Context as Reader/Writer

            Determining Your Purpose, Audience, and Genre

            Matching Your Reading Strategies to Your Purpose as Reader/Writer

How Expert Readers Use Rhetorical Knowledge to Read Efficiently

            Using Genre Knowledge to Read Efficiently     

            Using a Text’s Social/Historical Context to Make Predictions and Ask Questions

Typical Reading-Based Writing Assignments Across the Curriculum

            Writing to Understand Course Content More Fully

                        In-Class Freewriting

                        Reading or Learning Logs

                        Double-Entry Journals

                        Short Thought Pieces or Postings to a Discussion Board

            Writing to Report Your Understanding of What a Text Says

            Writing to Practice the Conventions of a Particular Type of Text

            Writing to Make Claims About a Text

            Writing to Extend the Conversation

Chapter Summary


Chapter 3

Listening to a Text

Writing as You Read

Preparing to Read

            Recalling Background Knowledge

            Using Visual Elements to Plan and Predict

            Spot Reading

                        An Extended Example: Spot Reading in Kirk Savage’s Monument Wars

Listening As You Read Initially

            Noting Organizational Signals

            Marking Unfamiliar Terms and References

            Identifying Points of Difficulty


Connecting the Visual to the Verbal

            Visuals That Enhance Verbal Content

            Visuals That Support Verbal Content

            Visuals That Extend Verbal Content

            For Writing and Discussion

Listening as You Reread

            Listening As You Reread

            Mapping the Idea Structure

            Describing What Verbal Texts Say and Do

            For Writing and Discussion

            Describing What Visual Texts Do

Writing About How Texts Work: Guidelines and Two Examples

            How Summaries Are Used in Academic and Workplace Settings

            Guidelines for Writing a Summary

                        Jaime’s Process Notes for Summarizing “Chew on This”

                        Sample Summary with Attributive Tags

            Guidelines for Writing a Rhetorical Précis

                        Jaime’s Rhetorical Précis

A Brief Writing Project

Chapter Summary

            Kirk Savage, The Conscience of the Nation


Chapter 4

Questioning a Text

What It Means to Question a Text

Examining a Writer’s Credibility and Appeals to Ethos

            For Writing and Discussion

Examining a Writer’s Appeals to Reason or Logos




            For Writing and Discussion

Examining a Writer’s Strategies for Engaging Readers, or Pathos

            For Writing and Discussion

Examining a Writer’s Language

            For Writing and Discussion

Examining a Text’s Ideology

            For Writing and Discussion

Examining a Text’s Use of Visual Elements

            Visual Elements and Ethical Appeals

            Visual Elements and Logical Appeals

            Visual Elements and Audience Appeals

            Visual Arguments

Exploring Your Responses to a Text

            Before/After Reflections

            The Believing and Doubting Game

            Interviewing the Author

Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Paper: Guidelines and an Example

            Guidelines for Writing a Rhetorical Analysis

            An Annotated Rhetorical Analysis of “A Lifesaving Checklist”

Chapter Summary

            Atul Gawande, “A Lifesaving Checklist”



Chapter 5

Using Rhetorical Reading for Researched Writing

Rhetorical Reading and Information Literacy

Formulating and Analyzing Questions

            Establishing Your Purpose

            Using Question Analysis to Plan a Research Strategy

Tips for Finding Reliable Sources

            Tip #1. Preferred Sources Have Undergone Solid Editorial Review and Fact-Checking

                        Library Databases and Web Search Engines

            Tip #2. Specialized Periodicals for General Audiences Can Be Very Useful

            Tip #3. Weigh Questions About Relevance

            Tip #4. Ask a Librarian

Tips for Evaluating Sources

            Tip #5. Read the Abstracts and Discussion Sections of Scholarly Articles

            Tip #6. Examine a Text’s Currency and Scope

            Tip #7. Check Authors’ and Experts’ Basis of Authority

            Tip #8. Consider the Reputation of Publishers and Sponsors

Chapter Summary


Chapter 6

Making Knowledge: Incorporating Reading into Writing

Asserting Your Authority as a Reader and Writer

Managing Your Writing Process

            Strategies for Getting Started

            Strategies for Generating Ideas

            Strategies for Writing a First Draft

            Strategies for Evaluating Your Draft for Revision

            Strategies for Peer Response and Revision

            Strategies for Editing and Polishing Your Final Draft

Integrating Material from Readings into Your Writing

            Using Summary

            Using Paraphrase

            Using Direct Quotation

            Avoiding Plagiarism

Using Attributive Tags to Frame Sources Rhetorically

Using Parenthetical Citations

            Understanding Academic Citation Conventions

Chapter Summary

Incorporating Reading into Writing: An Example in MLA Format



Building an MLA Citation

Formatting MLA In-Text Citations

            Quick Guidelines for Placement and Content


Setting Up an MLA Works Cited List

            The Basics

            Process Advice

Model MLA Citation Formats

            Citation Models for in Periodicals

            Citation Models for Books and Other Nonperiodical Print Sources

            Citation Models for Web Sources