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Chapter Two:

The Rhetorical Situation: Understanding Audience and Context

A rhetorical situation has five elements Acronym: TRACE T Text: The text is the argument itself. R Reader: The potential reader or audience. A Author: The author writes or develops an argument to convince a particular audience. C Constraints: Constraints include the people, events, circumstances, and traditions that are a part of the situation that constrain or limit a targeted audience and cause them to analyze and react to the situation in a particular way. E Exigence: The part of the situation which signals that something controversial has occurred or is present and that a problem needs to be resolved by some response from an audience.

Use the Rhetorical Situation When You Write an Argument All five elements of the rhetorical situation are important considerations for the writer. Three elements are in place before you begin to write: 1. 2. 3. Exigence Reader/Audience Constraints

When you begin to write, you add the other two elements: author and text. What is Exigence? The exigence of a situation will provide an author with the motivation to write about an issue. Issues often emerge from real-life events that signal something is wrong. Who is the reader or audience? To help you understand your audience, ask: Who are my readers? Where do they stand on my issue? How can I establish common ground with them? If they disagree with me, will they be willing to change or modify their views?

What are some constraints?

Constraints influence the ways in which both you and your audience think about issues. What background, events, experiences, traditions, values, or associations are influencing both you and your audience?

Who is the author? You or somebody else? Conducting an audience analysis Determine the audiences initial position and consider how it might change: A friendly audience An undecided audience A neutral audience A hostile, resistant audience An unfamiliar audience

Analyze the audiences Discourse Community An audiences affiliations can help define the nature of the audience itself. Specialized groups that share subject matter, background, experience, values, and a common language (specialized and technical vocabulary, jargon, or slang).

Analyze and Adapt to a familiar Audience Who are the members of your audience and what do you have in common with them? What are some of the demographic characteristics? (age, education, etc.) What is the present position of audience members on your issue? What experience do audience members have with your issue? (positive/negative) What beliefs, values, motives, goals, or aims about your issue do you share?

Writing Assignment:
Read one of the articles in this chapter. (Essay 1 pages 44-45, Essay 2 pages 58-59, Essay 3 page 62) Then write a 300-400 word paper in which you explain the rhetorical situation for the essay. Answer the questions using TRACE. See page 60