WRD104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Argument Analysis: Hip Hop & Punishment

By Week Three, we will have practiced composing rhetorical précis, a highly structured summary designed to explain the rhetorical structure and purpose of an argument.

We will apply that analytic method to an argument originally published in 2004 in the Stanford Law Review, and revised later in book form: “Much Respect: Toward a Hip-Hop Theory of Punishment.” Rather than a four-sentence précis, however, we will expand the précis summary form to a 750-1000 word analysis of Butler’s argument, asking the same questions: What’s the argument? How does he makes it? Why does he make it? To whom does he make it? What kind of relationship does he establish with his readers?

And you will take a position — argument, advocacy, or reflection — of your own.

Our Process

  • Before Monday, 4/11: read, annotate, and re-read “Much Respect”
  • Due Monday, 4/11: rhetorical précis — we’ll do this one in class, together
  • Due Wednesday, 4/13: argument analysis draft #1
  • Due Monday, 4/18: argument analysis draft #2
  • Due Wednesday, 4/27: argument analysis final draft

Recommended Context

In WRD103, we focused on textual analysis, in many cases excluding context: the circumstances surrounding the composition and distribution of a text. In WRD104, we can, and should, include and carefully integrate context in our work. That’s the purpose of WRD104, after all.

In the case of our argument analysis of Butler’s “Much Respect,” you’re encouraged to seek out and to integrate as much context — i.e., sources outside of Butler’s article — as you like in order to make a reasonable conclusion based on sources and supported facts. You can research him, for example, and his background; you can research the reception and critiques of his work; you can integrate multimodal resources, of which there are many, given the visual, musical, typographic, and fashion contexts for hip hop.  I highly recommend this 2009 CSPAN video (49 minutes) from the Printers Row Lit Festival — and note how many modes of communication are included just on this one web page: