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• The Rhetorical Situation • By: Kate Lavia, supplemented by Purdue Owl
Why write? • • • • •
When do you write? Why do you write? Do you enjoy writing? Why or why not? Why do you hate to write? – Writing is thinking!
Writing is Thinking • Training in analytical thinking and complex writing can teach you to: – Ask the right questions – Identify the problem – Research the solutions of others
Writing across the curriculum • Professors want you to use discipline specific methods that ensure rigorous, systematic, and reliable modes of thinking. • All knowledge stems from the desire to know, from the process of inquiry, from asking questions.
What is a Rhetorical Situation? – Rhetoric: Using language effectively to persuade, inform, educate, or entertain – Rhetorical Situation: The circumstances in which you communicate.
The Rhetorical Situation
The Writer • Your culture, personal characteristics and interests affect what you write about and how you write it.
Writer: Factors which can affect your writing include: • • • • • • •
Your age Your experiences Your gender Your location Your political beliefs Your parents and peers Your education
Writer: Looking at Issues as Someone Else • Think about the characteristics that define who you are: age, gender, background, location, politics, etc… • Now, write a short opinion piece about one of the following: – Alcohol, Animal Rights, Drug Legalization, Gun Control – Women In The Military, Immigration, Global Warming – Sex Education, Prayer In Public Schools, Hate Crimes
• What personal characteristics do you think most heavily influenced your opinion on that issue? Why? What do you think someone on the opposite end of the spectrum would say about this issue? Why?
Purpose: Your Reason For Writing
Genre • Category or type of writing • Genres hinge upon purpose and the needs/expectations of the projected audience. • Examples: fiction, autobiographical story, news article, review, letter to the editor/editorial, rhetorical analysis, criticism, persuasive essay
Genre: Movie examples • Look up a plot synopsis of the following movies online: The Shining, Taxi Driver, Silence of the Lambs, Willy Wonka, Home Alone, Mary Poppins. • What genre (drama, horror, comedy, etc…)best describes each movie? Why? What features or characteristics led you to that conclusion?
Genre: Movie examples, cont. • The Shining (recut): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmkVWuP_sO0 • Taxi Driver (recut): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_UaVUPsLsM • Silence of the Lambs (recut): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCxF6idjqnk • What impressions do you have of these clips? What are the possible imagined plot lines? What kind of a movie would you think this is based on the trailer?
Genre: Movie examples, cont. • Willy Wonka (recut): • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSz-XXBKEv8 • Home Alone (recut): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUuShby0Vhg • Mary Poppins (recut): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T5_0AGdFic
• What impressions do you have of these clips? What are the possible imagined plot lines? What kind of a movie would you think this is based on the trailer?
Genre: Movie examples, cont. • Movie goers have certain expectations based on the trailer and the genre being presented. • Scholars within the three major disciplines have the same kind of expectations, and they will be just as confused if you don’t adhere to their conventions.
Genre/Discipline: Sciences •
Scientists work in the fields of: •
Biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, anatomy, etc…
Scientists emphasize observation and objectivity and the rigor with which it dissects thinking. Writers generally use:
• • • • •
Precision and clarity Shorter, denser sentences Objective, not subjective language Few to no personal pronouns
Genre/Discipline: Social Sciences • Social scientists work in the fields of: – Psychology, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, and sometimes history
• Social scientists study human behavior, with all of the ambiguity that comes with it. • Writers generally: – Focus on more complex sentence structure – Emphasize objectivity (difficult to do when discussing human nature) – Do not use personal pronouns, though it depends on the writing situation
Genre/Discipline: Humanities • Humanists work in the fields of: – Literature, art, languages, religious study, philosophy, and sometimes history
• Humanists study the ways humans create meaning and focus on interpretation as well as making the abstract concrete. • Writers often: – Use more creative language – Construct longer, more sophisticated sentences – Do not use personal pronouns, depending on the type of writing
Audience: To Whom are you Writing? • Many of the same factors which affect the writer also affect the audience – Age – Social class – Education – Past experience – Culture/subculture – Expectations
Audience: Adams example • Read through Adams’ petition to waive his mathematics requirement, and then in small groups answer questions 1 and 2 under “For Class Discussion.” • How might the university committee see this issue? – 1) Faculty reject Adams’ claim that general education requirements should serve students’ individual career interests. – 2) Adams’ position threatens his immediate audience, the committee, with a possible flood of student requests to have various requirements waived on the grounds of their irrelevance to a particular career choice.
Topic: What you will write about
• May be broadened or narrowed depending on the length of your writing and your interest • Topics should be appropriate to the rhetorical situation you are in
Context • The “situation” which generates the need for writing • Affected by the – Time period or timing – Location – Current events – Cultural significance
Rhetorical Situation • • • • • •
Writer Purpose Audience Topic Context Culture
What this means… • You need to be aware that a rhetorical situation exists every time you write. • You need to adapt your writing depending on your purpose and your audience.