Who is the speaker?

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Understanding
Rhetorical
Situation
Primary sources: Grant-Davie, “Rhetorical Situations and their
Constituents;” Lunsford, “The Everyday Writer”
1.
2.
3.
4.
The speaker or writer
and her motivations
The audience (intended
and unintended)
The purpose of the
speech or written text
The limitations of the
message and how the
writer works within
those constraints.

As writers, we write
because we want
something from our
reader. We can want…







To inform
To persuade
To entertain
To educate
To shock
To incite
And, we often have
multiple goals at the same
time.
Rhetorical analysis means that you consider all elements
of the communication, especially what the writer wants
from you… and how she attempts to get it.




Who is the speaker?
What is the writing
about? What is its subject
matter?
Why is the message
needed now? Why does it
matter? What triggered
the communication?
What is the writer trying
to accomplish? What are
the goals or outcomes of
this message?
QUESTIONS



Who is the speaker?
What is the writing about?
What is its subject matter?
Why is the message needed
now? What triggered the
communication?
POSSIBLE ANSWERS

Dove

Body image of women.

The media’s influence on our
perceptions of beauty; selfsabotage of women to meet
impossible beauty standards
Beyond building self-esteem in girls and women, Dove has a
primary goal to persuade viewers to buy products.

Who is the intended or
primary audience? Who is
the unintended or
secondary audience? How
do both groups influence a
message?

Consider Facebook. When
you update your status—to
inform your friends of a
problem you’re having—
how do you shape your
language… knowing that
others will be reading it as
well? How does that change
your message?

The genre (medium) the writer uses.
Consider how your writing changes when
writing an academic paper versus a text
message.

The delivery and timing.
If your next paper was
posted on the Internet, how
would that influence your
writing choices? How do
outside events impact your
message? What do you add
or take out to accommodate
these events?



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Determine the topic. What is
the subject and its context?
Determine the writer/speaker.
Why is she compelled to speak
out? What does he want from
the reader? What assumptions
can I make about the speaker?
Determine the audience. Who is
responding to this message?
Where and why might they read
it? Who is the unintended
audience and how might they
have influenced this message?
Determine possible influences
of the genre (medium) and
outside events.
Successful rhetorical analysis includes
“proving” what you think.
Look for stylistic choices
(tone, word choice,
language, sentence
structure, visuals, etc.)
and appeals (logical,
emotional, ethical) that
the writer uses to support
your rhetorical analysis.
Then, present those
findings to your reader.
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