WEEK TWO: The Rhetorical Situation

READING: Wood, Chapter 2



This was my first class with you, so we spent some time getting to know each other with an Icebreaker game I call "Most Unique." I enjoyed getting to know interesting and strange things about all of you.

We then spent the rest of the class talking about what we mean by The Rhetorical Situation. According to your book, you can think about the Rhetorical Situation using the acronym TRACE: Text, Reader (or audience), Author, Constraints, and Exigence.

While the text (argument), reader (or audience), and author (or speaker) are fairly self-explanatory, constraints and exigence might need some explaining. Constraints are simply the limits of the Rhetorical Situation. These could be anything from time or space limitations (you've only been given 5 minutes to speak, or 500 words to write, for example) or the limitations of your audience caused by the members own attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs. Exigence is the reason for the argument. What has happened that has made this argument necessary right now...in this time and this place?

Basically, the important thing to remember is that argument doesn't exist in a vacuum...it is always the product of the culture surrounding it...the time period that it's a part of and the audience you are trying to address. It is particularly important to consider your audience...to analyze your audience's beliefs, prejudices, and assumptions and to understand and empathize with those in your audience. You will never reach your audience until you understand your audience.

I did not assign much homework this week, since I was still getting my bearings!



Get caught up on reading

Read Wood, Chapter 3

Bring in a Visual Argument for a class activity next week