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Exploring Writing Concepts Audience and Genre Discussion Questions

Exploring Writing Concepts Audience and Genre Discussion Questions



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.

Review PowerPoint

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

Maryland (

“Audience” from OpenOregon (

“Identifying an Audience” from UNC-Chapel Hill (

Review the Power Point on Rhetorical Situation


“Steve Jobs Commencement Address” (video and

transcript) from Stanford University (

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie” Commencement

Address (video and transcript) from Wellesley

College (


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

you read/reviewed?

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.

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