Rhetorical Situation

The context of a rhetorical act, made up (at a minimum) of a rhetor, an issue (or exigence), and an audience.

Put another way, a rhetorical situation occurs when a rhetor, an audience, a medium (such as a text or speech), and a context converge to create a rhetorical act, such as writing or speaking.

Agency: Rhetors are agents of change; a rhetorical act carries with it the burden of agency.

The Importance of Audience and Context

  • video time! (Let me preface this...)


  • 5-10 minute freewrite, based on the video.
    • Start by describing the discourse communities involved in it.
      • What conflicting norms are at play here?
      • What role does Smith's audience play in constructing meaning in this context?

Putting It Into Practice

  • Consider who would benefit most from your narrative and why context is significant to your telling of it.
  • Keep in mind the Murray article that you read over the weekend. Why is it important to see things like Kev & Lou's news story as autobiographical?
  • In small groups, discuss the example genre that you brought (or have in mind) and how different audiences might perceive it.
  • For the rest of our class time, we'll share examples that stood out to you most significantly.


  • Revisit the Porter article, highlighting significant points and focusing on Intertextuality.
    • What do you think you bring to your discourse community that "changes the constitution" (p.93) of that set of rules and norms?
    • What "larger process" (p.96) has led to the example you brought to class today?