Questions for Analyzing Literature Rhetorically

  1. What are the circumstances, historical and cultural conditions, and incidents that seem to serve as writing springboards, motivation, or inspiration for this writer generally or for this piece of literature specifically?
  2. What is suggested by the text about the author’s vision, beliefs, and values? How are the vision, beliefs, and values given voice within the text?
  3. For whom is the piece of literature written? Who is the intended audience?
  4. What social relationships and connections are established or assumed between the writer and the audience?
  5. Do these relationships change over the course of the text? If so, how? Why?
  6. What in the text allows or encourages the audience to respond in certain ways to the text? What responses are solicited?
  7. What are the “messages” of this literary text? Where do they reside in the text? What does the author want the reader to:
    • Know
    • Think
    • Feel
    • Do?
  8. What patterns of language use do you identify? Patterns of imagery?

Thanks to Jacqueline Jones Royster, Ohio State University