In this class we’ll study key concepts about writing
(rhetorical concepts) that exist within writing situations
and that every writer should be familiar with in order to
be effective in a writing situation. These concepts might
include terms you’ve heard before — audience, for
example — but we’ll explore them as they relate to
developing knowledge about writing.
Our goal by the end of the semester is to have developed
knowledge about writing, primarily based on the
concepts of writing we’ll explore and your critical
thinking and reflection about how writing works in
various contexts. We’ll also explore some of the practices
writers use to shape and evolve their writing from an
idea to a final draft. The knowledge you develop about
concepts and practices of writing is something you’ll be
able to call upon in any writing situation – the idea is that
you’ll be able to apply that knowledge appropriately for
the situation, making your writing more successful. We’ll
start with the concepts of audience and genre.
You may think you know what audiences are, but have
you thought about targeting particular audiences? Have
you ever thought about the audience when you write?
Your professor is not your audience when writing in college, so who is? It depends on a number of factors.
What about genre? Have you ever thought about the
genres of writing you encounter, or when you choose to
write something the choice of genre you make?
The PowerPoint and Readings below will introduce you
to these two concepts and answering the questions in
this assignment will get you started on discussing what
you know about writing.
There are multiple factors to consider within what is
known as the rhetorical situation (or the writing
situation, if only written). The rhetorical situation exists
any time we communicate — there is always an audience,
and other elements involved. You will read about
rhetorical situations as explained by the Purdue OWL
and review the PowerPoint at the end (also located
under Readings below) which you will want to return to
again and again as you work with this foundational
“Writing for an Audience” from the University of
“Audience” from OpenOregon (https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/wrd/chapter/audience/)
“Identifying an Audience” from UNC-Chapel Hill (https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/audience/)
Review the Power Point on Rhetorical Situation
“Steve Jobs Commencement Address” (video and
transcript) from Stanford University (https://youtu.be/UF8uR6Z6KLc)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie” Commencement
Address (video and transcript) from Wellesley
For this assignment, review the three readings on
audience and the one on genre, and then watch the
videos (or read the transcripts) of the Jobs and Adichie
commencement addresses. In about 250 to 500
words, respond to the following:
1. What are the key points you want to consider
about audience and genre according to the pieces
2. What assumptions about audience have you been
making when you write, in school or in writing or
communication you do outside of the classroom?
3. What do you know about genre?
4. What do you think matters most about considering audience?
5. Regarding the two sample Commencement
Addresses, who are the audiences for those? What can you assume about the audiences’ expectations of this genre – a commencement address –from looking at these samples?
6. How does the speaker or writer of the speech
demonstrate that they’ve considered the rhetorical
situation, especially considered the audience, in
your opinion? What do you think they considered
about their audiences specifically in writing or
preparing the address? You’re making assumptions, and that’s okay — from what you have learned about rhetorical situation in the Power Point above, you can assume some things about each writer’s thinking or strategy.