For the business-themed composition course I teach, I like to begin the semester with a rhetorical analysis assignment. Sometimes we do an advertising analysis. Last semester, we analyzed food packaging. This semester, my students are going to analyze the rhetoric of political ads. There are lots of resources floating out there on the web to support this kind of assignment. My favorite so far has been www.livingroomcandidate.org, part of The Museum of the Moving Image in New York. The site includes presidential campaign ads since 1952, lesson plans, and a video editor so that students can remix their own campaign ads.
One aspect of campaign ads I want to emphasize is that the same footage can turn a candidate into a hero or a village with a little clever editing. To do this, I spliced together some footage from The Campaign and then edited it in iMovie, changing the music, words, sound effects, and filters accompanying the same footage to change the mood. For ease of presentation, I stuck the edited footage into a Prezi. I’m considering how something like this could be morphed into an assignment for the students.