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.


Influential Writing

  • Discuss genre, audience, context, purpose.
    • Use 1st day writing to analyze these concepts
    • Work with partners to create discussion about why these things are important, but also why they are obscure to consumers of writing.
    • Importance of understanding your audience is fundamental to successful communication (e.g. KS vid)
  • Discuss writing process!
    • Apply Lamott to writing expectations in college v. high school
    • In what ways does Lamott's piece ask you to think differently about your writing?
  • Use threshold concepts to move into practice of writing as a social act -> problem solving!
  1. Writing is a Knowledge-Making Activity
    • How does reading also spawn ideas? In what ways does writing about your selected piece continue this formation of ideas?
  2. Writing Addresses, Invokes, and/or Creates Audiences
    • Describe the imagined audience of your piece. Based on the reading, what leads you to this conclusion? Does your piece "[blur] the boundaries between writer and audience?" (p. 21)
  3. Writing Expresses and Shares Meaning to be Reconstructed by the Reader
    • How is your understanding and relationship of your selection unique? How does it demonstrate something about your goals and motives?
  4. Words Get Their Meanings From Other Words
    • In what ways might context (time/technology/regionality) alter the interpretation of your selection?
  5. Writing Mediates Activity
    • What activity might your selection have mediated in your life?
  6. Writing Is Not Natural
    • What limitations might restrict the effectiveness of your selection's meaning?
  7. Assessing Writing Shapes Contexts and Instruction
    • In what ways are you "assessing" your selection? What makes your selection "good" (or not?!) writing?
  8. Writing Involves Making Ethical Choices
    • What specific consequences, inherent in your selection, can you identify? In other words, what might the author of your selection have had to grapple with ethically?
  9. Writing is a Technology Through Which Writers Create and Recreate Meaning
    • Is your selection digital? Would it make a difference if it were? What technological preferences do you have for reading and writing?

To Summarize and Synthesize: How did this piece go out and make something happen? What specific problems does it address?


  • Homework: read Wired stories.
    • Think about what problems are described in them and come to class Thursday prepared to discuss and explain!
    • Making notes that help you summarize your piece will help you.
    • I encourage you to contact and communicate with your classmates that have the same piece!