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.

  • Use threshold concepts to move into practice of writing as a social act -> problem solving!
    • Try to answer some of these questions based on the choice you made in your first freewrite:
  1. Writing is a Knowledge-Making Activity
    • How does reading also spawn ideas? In what ways does writing about your selected piece (from the first freewrite) 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" writing (or not?!)?
  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?
  • Freewrite: Choose one or several of the above questions to address in your writing.

Find Yourself a Rhetorical Situation

  • Let's do some investigation...
    • Find a piece that interests you. It doesn't really matter what it's about at this point.
    • You goal is to be able to describe it's rhetorical situation: genre, audience, context, purpose.
    • Over the weekend, your assignment is to create a piece of writing that follows these genre conventions.

  • Homework:
    • Create a "Shitty First Draft" and submit it to the "Genre Writing" link in Blackboard before Monday's class.
    • Take your time in developing an understanding of the genre you are writing in. The key here is to practice conventions.