Analyzing Your Rhetorical Situation

Analyzing Your Rhetorical Situation

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The purpose of this assignment is to try to force you to see writing as it is—an important means of communication. To accomplish this, I am asking you to analyze your research topic more fully by carefully considering your rhetorical situation with the understanding that your challenge in the research paper is to communicate your purpose clearly to your reader.

Place your thesis statement (or a revised version) from last week’s assignment at the top of the page, below the required heading, and answer the questions below. Be sure that the questions are copied to your assignment; each question should be followed by a one to two paragraph answer. The purpose of this assignment is to help direct your research and organize your thinking on the topic.

1. What is my goal in this paper? [Passing the course is not the goal here.]
2. What do I already know about my topic?
3. What do my readers already know?
4. What do my readers need to know to understand my point?
5. What information do I need to research and add to my paper?

Begin by explaining your purpose. Your thesis statement is a good place to start, but you need to go a bit further. Consider the “audience take-away”—what do you want your readers to know, feel, or believe when they finish reading your research paper? A clear understanding of your purpose will help you decide what information to include in your paper and how to organize your paper.

Next, consider your audience; in this case, your audience is your classmates. Consider how much they know about your topic and what they need to know to understand your purpose. Will you need to explain complex terminology? Will graphs help your audience? If your topic is a controversial one, think about the best way to present it to your audience. For example, think about your tone and word choice here.

Once you have an understanding of your purpose and audience, consider your subject. How much information do you already know about the topic? What information do you need to research and present to your audience in order to fulfill your purpose? Careful consideration here will help direct your research.

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