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(Author, audience, purpose) Rhetorical Context

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Overview of rhetorical context in academic readings

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(Author, audience, purpose) Rhetorical Context

  1. 1. Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  2. 2. ●All Writing, from grocery lists to lengthy books, is constrained by the factors surrounding it. ●These factors are known as the Rhetorical Context. oWho the author is oWho the intended audience is oWhat purpose it’s written for Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  3. 3. Author Audience Purpose Written Text Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  4. 4. Author Audience Purpose Written Text ●Personal attributes of the author that are apparent from the text itself matter ●Could include oAge oEducation level oPersonal background & experience with the subject oRace, religion, ethnicity oNative language oLocation of home, travel, or work oAgain—this is only what’s apparent within the text itself.Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  5. 5. Author Audience Purpose Written Text Authors usually have a specific group, or TARGET AUDIENCE, in mind as they write. This does not mean that other groups cannot understand the text, or benefit from reading it. The TARGET AUDIENCE is the group that is going to be most directly affected by the text’s thesis, or purpose. Examples: mothers of toddlers; teenagers interested in martial arts; your grandfather, yourself… Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  6. 6. ●THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “GENERAL AUDIENCE” ! ●All audiences are constrained by certain elements: oLanguage the text is written in (only people who can understand the language can read it) oEducation level demanded by vocabulary (differences between what a 4th grader can understand, vs. someone in high school, vs. someone with higher degrees in Physics) oExamples or references made in the text (someone in Wisconsin would have no idea what “Bumbershoot” is, for instance) Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  7. 7. ●Knowing who the intended audience for a piece of writing is can be useful. ●If you don’t like a particular essay out of a textbook, for instance, stop and ask yourself— was this written with me in mind? oIf the answer is no, then the author isn’t trying to please you…and so, there’s good reason for you not liking the work. (Doesn’t mean you can’t learn something by reading it anyway, though, right?) Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  8. 8. Author Audience Purpose Written Text What is the reason the text has been written down? Is it for personal use, private communication, or publishing for a bigger audience? This purpose will dictate what form the text takes (text message on a cell phone vs. MLA formatting for publication in a scholarly journal, for instance) Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College
  9. 9. ●Consider these issues for each piece of writing you come across in the near future. oWho wrote it? What can we tell about the author, just from what he or she has written down? oWho is intended to read this? Is it written with you, specifically, in mind, or are you an unintended audience member? oWhy was it written down? What benefit will this writing serve? Alexis McMillan-Clifton Tacoma Community College

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