Expert Answer:CMN507 Researched Rhetorical Analysis

Answer & Explanation:Length: Between 1500 and 2000words. For this project, you’ll analyzes short, contemporary text or texts of your choosing. For example, you could analyze recent political speech,an advertisement, a documentary, a press conference, an op-ed, etc…In doing so, you’ll use rhetorical theories/concepts pertaining to either genre (eg. monomyth, apologia) or Burke(eg. scapegoating, the panted).The text(s) you choose should be different from what you analyzed for Project #1. One of the challenges of this paper, as with the previous project, is pairing text(s)worth analyzing with atheoretical/conceptual angle that enables you to develop a rich and insightful analysis of it/them.





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PROJECT #2: Researched Analysis
Due: 11/17 midnight
Grade Value: 20%
Length: Between 1500 and 2000 words
For this project, you’ll analyze a short, contemporary text or texts of your choosing. For example, you could analyze a recent
political speech, an advertisement, a documentary, a press conference, an op-ed, etc… In doing so, you’ll use rhetorical
theories/concepts pertaining to either genre (eg. monomyth, apologia) or Burke (eg. scapegoating, the pentad). The text(s) you
choose should be different from what you analyzed for Project #1. One of the challenges of this paper, as with the previous
project, is pairing text(s) worth analyzing with a theoretical/conceptual angle that enables you to develop a rich and insightful
analysis of it/them.
This assignment also asks you to incorporate research in support of your arguments; you should cite at least 3 scholarly sources
as you discuss/develop your argument (at least 2 of which you track down yourself). Many of the academic articles we’ve looked
at in this course could serve as (longer) models of this sort of analysis.
[Note: The text(s) you are analyzing do not count toward the 3 scholarly sources, though you should cite it/them as well]
Your paper should do the following:

Include an introduction in which you give a brief overview of the paper
Clearly assert your thesis
Use a coherent organizational structure
Explain the theory/theories you are using to analyze the chosen text.
Include a full account of how the text works persuasively in terms of the theory/theories you have identified
Be specific: make sure you point to particular features of your chosen text
Point toward the implications of your analysis
End with a conclusion
Be carefully formatted and proofread
Incorporate research regarding your theoretical framework (at least 3 sources, at least one of which you find yourself)
Cite any sources (including course readings) using MLA or APA format
For more detail regarding expectations, see the grading rubric on the next page:
D-level work or below
C-level work
B-level work
A-level work
Your essay is lacking in
substance in some
significant way.
You do some good work in your
analysis, but your ideas could
be more fully developed and/or
the essay could be more
specific and/or is off track in
some significant way.
You’ve written a generally strong
analysis, one that makes relevant
arguments and points to specific
features of the text
You’ve written an exceedingly
thoughtful and thorough analysis,
one that makes compelling
arguments and points to a
number of specific features of the
The analysis makes
minimal and/or ineffective
use of the selected
The analysis makes some use
of the selected
theory/concept(s), but it could
be a good bit more effective in
this regard.
The analysis competently employs
theory/concept(s), though there is
room for improvement.
The analysis makes skilled use
of the selected
The essay includes a
number of significant
organizational problems
and/or the thesis and/or
main points are extremely
difficult to discern.
Your essay is characterized by
some organizational problems.
Your essay is generally well
organized, though there is some
room for improvement
Your essay is clearly organized
and it is easy to discern your
thesis and each of your main
The essay needs
substantial improvement
in terms of basic prose
The essay is competently written,
though there is room for a good
bit of improvement in
The essay is generally well written,
though there is room for some
improvement in editing/proofreading.
The essay is easy and fun to
read. It is exceptionally well
written and shows clear evidence
of careful use of language.
Incorporates no research,
or sources are not
thoughtfully incorporated
and/or are unreliable
and/or negatively affect
credibility in a significant
Intext citations involve
excessive errors that
disrupt the purpose
Bibliographic citations
involve excessive errors
that disrupt the purpose
Incorporates good research, but
sources could be stronger and/or
more thoughtfully incorporated in
some significant way.
Incorporates relevant and reliable
research in an effective manner and
sources enhance credibility, though
there is some room for
Incorporates extremely relevant
and reliable research into your
project in a highly effective
manner. Your sources bolster
your credibility.
Involves a major pattern of intext
citation errors.
Intext citations are largely correct,
with minimal error.
Intext citations are expertly done.
Involves a major pattern of
bibliographic citation errors.
Bibliographic citations are largely
correct, with minimal error.
Bibliographic citations are
expertly done.
& Thoroughness
Use of
Thesis and
Quality and Integration
Intext citation
Bibliographic citation
Environmental Communication, 2015
Vol. 9, No. 4, 520–538,
Scapegoating in the Wild: A Burkean
Analysis of Two Outdoor Adventures
Gone Wrong
Molly Hartzog
Aron Ralston and Christopher McCandless, two outdoor adventurers, have captured
the hearts of many American environmentalists. Each has attained the status of
cultural icons and inspired books and films to recount their tales. While entertainment
media have romanticized both individuals, news media are not as easy on one—
McCandless is vilified while Ralston is valorized. When reporting these stories, news
media outlets attempted to retell each story in a way that conforms to the dominant
American ideology of wilderness, where “progress” is marked by control over nature—
control that both Ralston and McCandless clearly unsettled. In addition, both
committed many of the same errors in being underprepared. Despite these similarities,
why are they each presented so differently in the news media? This paper offers a
rhetorical analysis of newspaper articles on each story, where the phenomenon of
scapegoating alienates McCandless, and the phenomenon of mortification purifies
Ralston, restabilizing this American environmental ideology in both stories. In
conclusion, I argue that the essential difference between these two stories is that they
present two opposing ideals of a human–nature relationship, with Ralston’s ideology
including a space for technology and industrial knowledge, and thus construed as more
appropriate than McCandless’ ideology.
Keywords: human–nature relationship; Kenneth Burke; scapegoating; wilderness
Molly Hartzog is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, North
Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA. Correspondence to: Molly Hartzog, Communication, Rhetoric, and
Digital Media, North Carolina State University, Ricks Hall, Box #7579, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA. Email:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
Scapegoating in the Wild
Christopher McCandless hiked into the Alaskan wilderness, ultimately passing away
in August 1992, after living approximately four months in solitude. Aron Ralston
nearly created a similar tragedy in 2003 while hiking in Bluejohn Canyon, Utah,
where he spent five days trapped “between a rock and a hard place” when a boulder
crushed his arm. Unlike McCandless, Ralston survived and now capitalizes on his
experience through autobiography sales, motivational speaking, and various popular
media appearances. Both Ralston and McCandless have inspired the creation of
popular books1 and films.2 Through popular media, McCandless and Ralston have
individually achieved the status of cultural icons and inspired others to embark on
similar journeys of self-discovery and outdoor adventure. Both McCandless and
Ralston made similar mistakes. Both began their excursions without telling family or
friends, and both were ill-prepared for the situations they would face, albeit
unforeseen. Perhaps most importantly, however, both stories embody a unique
American ideal of the wilderness, simultaneously reflecting a desire for an intimate
connection with nature and a desire of conquest over nature. Despite all
these similarities, news reports of each incident vastly differ—McCandless is vilified
while Ralston is valorized. If these two stories are similar in all ways but their ending,
why are they represented in such opposing ways? A simplistic interpretation would
posit that this is because Ralston lived and McCandless died—Ralston won his epic
battle, while McCandless succumbed to the great forces of nature. The endings to
these stories create different standards for news accounts. Ralston was able to give
direct accounts of his survival and promote his story through various personal
appearances. Those reporting McCandless’ incident, on the other hand, were only
able to use evidence from official reports of his death and fragmentary remains of his
personal diaries and photographs. However, even given these material differences in
evidence of the two incidents, this simplistic interpretation does not account for the
news media’s focus on Ralston’s and McCandless’ character: McCandless is
represented as having “got what was coming to him” because of his arrogance and
ignorance of essential survival skills, while Ralston is represented as one who
embodies heroic qualities that enabled his victory. Ralston’s very presence in the
wilderness is justified in the news media while McCandless’ is strongly questioned,
despite whether they each lived to share their stories. The simplistic interpretation
above draws of on the very narrative it intends to critique; we are able to say
McCandless “lost” and Ralston “won” because of the long tradition of understanding
a relationship with wilderness as one of a battle (Nash, 1967). This is the same
narrative that enables discussions of “taming” nature, dichotomizing wilderness as
what is not civilization (hence going into the wild or returning to civilization), and
personifying nature as something that “ravages” (Nash, 1967; Oelschlaeger, 1991;
Rogers & Schutten, 2004). In a country founded on westward movement, the heroes
and heroines of the “Wild West” are the ruthless, lawless pioneers who managed to
cultivate a civilization from unmanageable wilderness. “Progress” is defined by the
perceived control of nature.
M. Hartzog
In the twentieth century, this idea of progress as control extended to the economic
and technological prosperity of the post-war era, fueling the unique American
relationship with nature that rests strongly on a technologically mediated experience
with wilderness. This technological mediation of nature then creates a problematic
dualism between the “authentic naturalist” and “inauthentic tourist,” which extends
to the technologies these actors carry into the wild, deeming some acceptable and
others excessive (Marafiote, 2008). As both Ralston and McCandless present
situations that reflect a great lack of control over nature, their stories pose a potential
threat to the American understanding of progress. Their experiences are presented
strikingly different; Ralston’s is deemed an appropriate, authentic experience while
McCandless is deemed deeply inappropriate and extremist. By extension, they also
represent strikingly different relationships to a technological society; Ralston carried
the necessary (and no more!) tools and “engineering sensibilities” with him that
enabled his survival, while McCandless is represented as fully ejecting himself from
society and rejecting its tools, ultimately leading to his demise.
In order to present each of these stories in a manner that conformed to rather
than threatened a masculinist American ideology of wilderness, the news media
engaged with, in McCandless case, the Burkean principle of scapegoating, and in
Ralston’s case, the parallel principle of mortification. Both principles follow the same
three points: (1) original principle of merger, (2) principle of division, and (3) new
principle of merger. Scapegoating and mortification both result in the emergence of a
purified identity of society, cleansed of, in this case, any potential threat to the
American ideology of wilderness. The two stories part in the final step, the new
principle of merger. Ralston is able to use his amputated arm as the literal and
symbolic sacrificial vessel of purification, allowing him to reemerge as a purified
individual. McCandless, on the other hand, since he did not survive to share his story,
served as the sacrificial vessel entirely. Where Burke looked primarily at social
interactions when developing his dramatistic theory, I have found using dramatism to
look at a case of environmental communication is a useful means of articulating what
is understood as an “appropriate” human–nature relationship, and what that
relationship reflects and deflects.
Focusing on news articles surrounding each incident, this paper outline the
processes of scapegoating and mortification in McCandless’ and Ralston’s stories, and
how these processes construct these two characters to support a particularly
American and masculine human–nature relationship in the end. The critical
difference that I found between these two stories is not the tragic or victorious
ending, but rather their perceived relationship with a technological society. In
conclusion, I show how Ralston’s presence in the wilderness was, and continues to be,
justified through his acceptance of society’s tools and technology, which is now given
a platform with his extensive collection of prostheses. Ralston embodies an acceptable
human–nature relationship, one that is mediated by modern, industrialized technology. On the other hand, McCandless’ reported denial of technological assistance in
Scapegoating in the Wild
his adventure is attributed to his death. His approach is cast as an unacceptable
human–nature relationship. McCandless was out of place as he went into the wild.
Environmental scholars have explored human–nature relationships and human–
nature boundaries in great depth, producing a wide spectrum of schools of thought
that conceptualize nature and the role of the human within it differently. For
example, the deep ecology movement strongly critiques the anthropocentric
understanding of nature as a resource (Devall & Sessions, 2001). Ecofeminism, as a
second example, places its critiques at the intersections among militarism, sexism,
racism, classism, and environmental damage, where nature is gendered as feminine
and rendered other to masculinized civilization (Mack-Canty, 2004; Rogers &
Schutten, 2004). More recently, scholars have turned to rhetoric to examine the
intersections of scientific, political, and environmental discourse and how those
intersections can lead to sustainable action (Killingsworth & Palmer, 2012). While the
McCandless and Ralston’s stories could be productively interpreted using any one of
these conceptual frameworks, I have chosen to focus on the history of the American
and masculine brand of a human–nature relationship since, as I hope to make clear
later, this particular ideology is what appears to be fueling the scapegoating of
McCandless and the mortification of Ralston.
The opening scenes of the film Into the Wild provide an apt illustration of this
ideology and romanticization of the sublime, which serves as the framework for the
remainder of the film. In these scenes, McCandless is shown being dropped off at the
head of a trail in what is presumed to be the snowy, mountainous landscape of
Alaska. The camera alternates between the picturesque winter scene and close-up
shots of Emile Hirsch, who portrays McCandless, gazing across the view. The film
continues to portray McCandless as he works to set up camp in his infamous
abandoned bus along the Stampede Trail. The voice-over narrates the following poem
as McCandless carves the words into a piece of plywood:
Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate
freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. So now, after
two rambling years comes a final and greatest adventure. The climatic battle to kill
the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution. No longer
to be poisoned by civilization he flees and walks alone upon the land to become lost
in the wild. (Alexander Supertramp, May 1992)
The Cultural Construction of Wilderness
The idea of going “into the wild” (as employed by both Krakauer and Penn in their
accounts of McCandless’ story) has played a foundational role in American cultural
memory. The history of the USA is marked by westward movement into unknown,
“wild” territory; American pioneers were seen as great tamers of natural phenomena
and conquerors of the native inhabitants of the land (both human and nonhuman).
These European settlers moved across the land, demarcating “property” from the
“wilderness.” After these demarcations were created, Roderick Nash explains:
M. Hartzog
The intellectual consequence was the application of the concept of “wild” to those
parts of nature not subject to human control. The concept of wilderness emerged as
a way of thinking about nature with the beginnings of a pastoral style of life some
twelve thousand years ago. This was, of course, also the start of the remarkable
upswings in the growth curves of population, technological prowess, wealth, and
environmental deterioration. (1967, p. xii)
The concept of wilderness was constructed out of technological development. It
became a product of cultural memory, identifying society’s primordial origins as
something other than modern industrial civilization. Accompanying this, nature has
been identified as nurturing, associated with reproduction, thus gendered feminine,
while industrialized society is identified with progress and control over feminized
nature, thus gendered masculine (Rogers & Schutten, 2004; Soper, 1995). Furthermore, the gendering of the natural as feminine (vis-a-vis reproduction) and the
industrial as masculine “invites us to suppose that ‘production’ proceeds without
reliance on nature, when in fact any form of human creativity involves a utilization
and transformation of natural resources; and second because it presents ‘reproduction’ as if it were unaffected by cultural mediation and inured against the impact of
socioeconomic conditions” (Soper, 1995, pp. 101–102).
The industrialized mindset tied to the idea of wilderness carries with it several
binary oppositions: what is primitive is not civilized, what is society is not wilderness,
and what is culture is not nature. These dualisms create the logical structure that
enables stories like those of McCandless and Ralston to occur: “The idea of being ‘lost
in the wilderness’ logically necessitates a geological referent conceptualized as home
as distinct from all other places; but for Paleolithic people home was where they were
and where they always had been” (Oelschlaeger, 1991, p. 14). These geographical
referents of “home” and “the wild” enable McCandless and Ralston to exit one and
enter the other and subsequently represent the experience as something different
from what society can provide and unique to what most humans experience in their
These dualisms can be used in powerful ways, both productively and detrimentally. There are several moments in US history where the “othering” of wilderness was
used productively in environmental preservation efforts. For example, John Muir
used elements of the sublime in order to build support for preserving what is now the
Yosemite National Park (Oravec, 1981). While Muir’s efforts are praised for planting
the seeds of the curre …
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