8 Oct. 2020
To develop a writing theory you will need three major concepts. These concepts would include genre, audience, and rhetorical situation. Each of those concepts play a little part when authors are writing. The components would be the audience, the genre, and the rhetorical situation. I will be using Charles Bazerman What Writing Does and How It Does It, An Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices. I will also be using Lloyd Bitzer The Rhetorical Situation. The audience is who the author is gearing their writing towards or they could be persuading their audience. The rhetorical situation is important to the writing piece because it gives the audience a situation to learn from. The rhetorical situation also gives the setting of their writing piece. The final concept would be the genres, you will learn there are three components that go along with the genre. You will also start to notice how these three concepts relate back to each other.
Some people might define genre as a category a writing piece is in, for an example like fiction or non-fiction. There are three major key components that go along with genre. Charles Bazerman talks about genre set, genre system, and system of activity. The first key component are genre sets which according to Bazerman are, “A Genre Set is the collection of types of texts someone in a particular role is likely to produce.”(Bazerman 318). The next key component would be genre systems, Bazerman states, “A Genre System is comprised of the several genre sets of people working together in an organized way, plus the patterned relations in the production, flow, and use of these documents.” (Bazerman 318). The final concept that goes along with genre would be the system of activity. According to Bazerman the definition of system of activity is, “This system of genres is also part of the system of activity of the class. In defining the system of genres people engage in you also identify a framework which organizes their work, attention, and accomplishment.” (Bazerman 319). Those three concepts tie together into what genre is, they also create a large portion of activity which has to deal with the rhetorical situation.
The rhetorical situation is a crucial part to a writing theory and writing in general. The rhetorical situation is what gives the audience a problem that they can learn from. In other words, the rhetorical situation gives the writing piece action in some way, since it has to perform a task. In Lloyd Bitzer’s writing “The Rhetorical Situation”, he describes in greater detail how the rhetorical situation produces action. Bitzer states, “… a work of rhetoric is pragmatic; it comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself; it functions ultimately to produces action or change in the world; it performs some task.” (Bitzer 4). Bitzer also talks about in greater detail that the rhetorical situation gives a context of people, places, events, relations, and exigence. The people, places, events and relationships are important to writing since that is basically the setting of your piece. However, exigence would be the problem or situation of your writing piece. Bizter states, “Let us regard rhetorical situation as a natural context of persons, events, objects, relations, and exigence which strongly invites utterance; this invited utterance participates naturally in the situation, is in many instances necessary to the compilation of situational activity…”(Bitzer 5). This shows us that the rhetorical situation gives us the five main reasons for writing a piece. Bitzer gives an example that incorporates the five reasons, “In Malinowski’s examples, the situation is the fishing expedition- Consisting of objects, persons, events, and relations- and the ruling exigence, the success of the hunt.” (Bitszer 5).
Now that we have covered the two major concepts when developing a writing theory, the last concept is the audience. The audience is an important key component when writing since this would be the group of people you are directing your piece towards. The genre relates to the audience since the genre sets would be used as collections of texts used with a particular profession. For example doctors would not be using the same genre sets as a teacher would. According to Bazerman, he states, “The genre set written by a teacher of a particular course might consist of a syllabus, assignment sheets, personal notes on readings, notes for giving lectures and lesson plans for other kinds of classes, exam questions, email announcements to the class, replies to individual student queries and comments, comments and grades on student papers, and grade sheets at the end of the term.” (Bazerman 318). This shows that the genre sets of a teacher would be much different than a doctor, which is catering to different audiences. This would mean that there are two different audiences for each genre set. However, the audience is important to the rhetorical situation because it is who the author is giving the message to. This could lead to the audience being persuaded with what they believe in. According to Bitzer, he states, “Nor would I equate rhetorical situation with persuasive situation, which exists whenever an audience can be changes in belief or action by means of speech. Every audience at any moment is capable of being changed in some way by speech; persuasive situation is altogether general.” (Bitzer 3). This shows why the audience is so important to your writing, if the author knows they are writing so an audience that does not share their beliefs, they could try to persuade them in doing so.
As you have read, there are many more concepts that go into a writing piece than most people would think. The rhetorical situation gives the writing action and activity, also gives the writing a setting. The audience would be the group of people that are learning the lesson, also could be the group of people the author is persuading their writing towards. The genre relates to the other two components, it gives the writing action and activity, but also helps gear to a certain audience.
Bazerman, Charles; What Writing Does and How It Does It, An Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices
Bitzer, Lloyd; The Rhetorical Situation