rhetorical situation


  • Edbauer’s rhetorical ecology[edit] In a 2005 article, “Unframing Models of Public Distribution: From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies,” Jenny Edbauer argued for
    an understanding of the rhetorical situation beyond the three traditional elements of audience, exigence, and constraints.

  • • Constraints: all of the elements that can limit or alter the message’s efficacy; this is sometimes grouped together with context[17] Though some scholars, such as Douglas
    Downs and Elizabeth Wardle, have criticized the use of the rhetorical situation as a core component of first-year writing courses, arguing that it would be better to teach students about writing and writing studies than it would be to teach
    them how to write by responding to rhetorical situations.

  • Vatz believes that situations are created, for example, when an activist sets an agenda to focus on climate change, thus creating a “rhetorical situation” (a situation determined
    by rhetoric).

  • Consigny concludes: The real question in rhetorical theory is not whether the situation or the rhetor is “dominant,” but the extent, in each case, to which the rhetor can
    discover and control indeterminate matter, using his art of topics to make sense of what would otherwise remain simply absurd.

  • [2] Tying this back to rhetoric, he argues that spatiotemporal issues within the idea of rhetorical ecology (i.e., issues that are related to the location and timing of a
    rhetorical event) are directly linked back to these historical realities interwoven into the larger idea of ecology.

  • Indeed such a choice endows these elements with a presence…” [4] In essence, Vatz claims that the definitive elements of rhetorical efforts are the struggle to create for
    a chosen audience saliences or agendas, and this creation is then followed by the struggle to infuse the selected situation or facts with meaning or significance.

  • [2] In the article, he explicitly acknowledges that he is not writing off the theory as something inherently bad; rather, he is observing complications within it and offering
    up creative new perspectives on the topic.

  • Taken together, Biesecker suggests that the thematic of différance allows us to see the rhetorical situation as an event that does not simply convince audiences to believe
    or act in a certain way or represent the claims put forth by a static speaker or situation.

  • [11] She also argues that a simply contextual perspective of writing is also insufficient; rather, an ecological view of writing extends past the immediate context of a writer
    and their text to examine the systems that the writer is a part of with other writers.

  • Use in teaching writing The rhetorical situation is a component of some first-year college writing courses, wherein students learn about the rhetorical situation, rhetorical
    analysis, and awareness of the features they must respond to from their rhetorical situation(s).

  • He defined the rhetorical situation as “a complex of persons, events, objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be completely or partially
    removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action as to bring about the significant modification of the exigence.

  • Cooper also addresses the significant rhetorical concern of audience, claiming that within the ecological model, views of audience are improved as the implication is that
    there is really communication with a real audience happening, as opposed to an imagined audience, or generalized other.

  • Vatz claims that portraying rhetoric as situation-based vitiates rhetoric as an important field, while portraying rhetoric as the cause of what people see as pressing situations
    enhances its significance as a field of study.

  • The rhetorical problem consists of two elements: the rhetorical situation (exigence and audience), and the writer’s goals involving the reader, persona, meaning, and text.

  • Vatz believes that rhetoric defines a situation, because the context and choices of events could be forever described, but the persuader or influencer or rhetor must select
    which events to make part of the agenda.

  • The situation, thus, calls for the activist to use and respond with rhetorical discourse on the climate change issue.

  • [8] In addition to questioning proposed views of the speaker and the situation, this lens also challenges the view of the audience as a unified, rational concept.

  • Rather, she argues, this deconstruction reveals the ability of the rhetorical situation to actually create provisional identities and social relationships through articulation.

  • [7] The rhetorical problem model explains how a writer responds to and negotiates a rhetorical situation while addressing and representing his or her goals for a given text.

  • Bitzer especially focuses on the sense of timing (kairos) needed to speak about a situation in a way that can best remedy the exigence.

  • Rhetorical templates function within constraints of the genre, but also affect the exigence and purpose by creating how the text is written and read.

  • He particularly focuses on the need to employ place-based and community-engaged research to better understand the history of the discipline and work toward shaping a better

  • [2] He suggests the framework of field histories as a way to acknowledge the complicated history of the field of ecology as it is used rhetorically.

  • As a challenge to both Bitzer and Vatz, Consigny claims that Bitzer has a one-dimensional theory by dismissing the notion of topic as instrument, and that Vatz wrongly allows
    the rhetor to create problems willfully while ignoring the topic as situation.

  • The intersection of topic as instrument and topic as realm gives the situation both meaning (as a perceptive formal device) and context (as material significance).

  • Boyce writes that “students, though aware of and capable of implementing [rhetorical] awareness into writing practices, most often do not.

  • [11] For Cooper, the ecological model allows us to look at people who interact through writing and the systems making up the act of writing itself.

  • [13][14][15] In this context, the rhetorical situation is taught in several parts:[16] • Writer: the author, speaker, or other generator of the rhetoric under examination
    • Exigence: the reason the author is writing about their particular subject and why they are writing about it at this moment • Purpose: what the writer wants from the audience • Audience: the intended (and sometimes unintended) recipients
    of the writer’s message • Genre: how the topic is presented by the writer to the audience • Subject: the topic that the writer is discussing • Context: describes the author, where and when the rhetoric is being created and/or received, etc.

  • [1][2] Theoretical development In the twentieth century, three influential texts concerning the rhetorical situation were published: Lloyd Bitzer’s “The Rhetorical Situation,”
    Richard E. Vatz’s “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation,” and Scott Consigny’s “Rhetoric and Its Situations.”

  • “[11] With an acute focus on the composition classroom, Cooper critiques the notion of writing as a primarily cognitive function, positing that it ignores important social
    aspects of the writing process.

  • The rhetorical situation dictates the significant physical and verbal responses as well as the sorts of observations to be made.

  • “[1] A shift from “rhetorical situations” to “rhetorical ecologies” takes into account the complex, overlapping, and constantly shifting nature of audience, exigence, and
    constraints, as well as the distribution of public rhetorics.

  • Edbauer argues that viewing rhetorical situations as ecologies shows us that “public rhetorics do not only exist in the elements of their situations, but also in the radius
    of their neighboring events.

  • Consigny argues that rhetoric gives the means by which a rhetor can engage with a situation by meeting two conditions.


Works Cited

[‘1. Edbauer, Jenny (2005-09-01). “Unframing models of public distribution: From rhetorical situation as rhetorical ecologies”. Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 35 (4): 5–24. doi:10.1080/02773940509391320. ISSN 0277-3945. S2CID 142996700.
2. ^ Jump up
to:a b c d e Jones, Madison (2021-08-08). “A Counterhistory of Rhetorical Ecologies”. Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 51 (4): 336–352. doi:10.1080/02773945.2021.1947517. ISSN 0277-3945. S2CID 238358762.
3. ^ Jump up to:a b Bitzer, Lloyd F. (1968). “The
Rhetorical Situation”. Philosophy & Rhetoric. 1 (1): 1–14. ISSN 0031-8213.
4. ^ Perelman, Chaïm (1979), “Philosophy, Rhetoric, Commonplaces”, The New Rhetoric and the Humanities, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, pp. 52–61, doi:10.1007/978-94-009-9482-9_3,
ISBN 978-90-277-1019-2, retrieved 2021-04-06
5. ^ Vatz, Richard E., “The Mythical Status of Situational Rhetoric: Implications for Rhetorical Critics’ Relevance in the Public Arena”. The Review of Communication 9 no. 1 (January 2009): 1-5.
6. ^
Jump up to:a b Scott Consigny, “Rhetoric and Its Situations,” Philosophy and Rhetoric, no. 3 (Summer 1974): 175-186
7. ^ Flower, Linda, and Hayes, John R. “The Cognition of Discovery: Defining a Rhetorical Problem.” College Composition and Communication,
vol. 31, no. 1, National Council of Teachers of English, 1980, pp. 21–32.
8. ^ Jump up to:a b c Biesecker, Barbara A. (1989). “Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation from within the Thematic of ‘Différance'”. Philosophy & Rhetoric. 22 (2): 110–130.
ISSN 0031-8213. JSTOR 40237580.
9. ^ Jump up to:a b Garret, Mary, and Xiao, Xiaosui. “‘The Rhetorical Situation Revisited.’” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 2, Informa UK Limited, Mar. 1993, pp. 30–40.
10. ^ Jump up to:a b c Coe, Richard
M. (1975). “Eco-Logic for the Composition Classroom”. College Composition and Communication. 26 (3): 232–237. doi:10.2307/356121. JSTOR 356121.
11. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Cooper, Marilyn M. (1986). “The Ecology of Writing”. College English. 48 (4):
364–375. doi:10.2307/377264. ISSN 0010-0994. JSTOR 377264.
12. ^ Gallagher, John R. “The Rhetorical Template.” Computers and Composition, vol. 35, Elsevier, Mar. 2015, pp. 1–11.
13. ^ Wardle, Elizabeth (2009). “”Mutt Genres” and the Goal of FYC:
Can We Help Students Write the Genres of the University?”. College Composition and Communication. 60 (4): 765–789. ISSN 0010-096X.
14. ^ Formo, Dawn; Neary, Kimberly Robinson (2020-05-01). “Feature: Threshold Concepts and FYC Writing Prompts: Helping
Students Discover Composition’s Common Knowledge with(in) Assignment Sheets”. Teaching English in the Two-Year College. 47 (4): 335–364. doi:10.58680/tetyc202030647. ISSN 0098-6291.
15. ^ “First Year Program (FYC) Principles”. University of North
Georgia. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
16. ^ Peters, Jason; Bates, Jennifer; Martin-Elston, Erin; Johann, Sadie; Maples, Rebekah; Regan, Anne; White, Morgan. “What is the Rhetorical Situation?”. WRITING ARGUMENTS IN STEM.
17. ^ Long, Liza; Minervini,
Amy; Gladd, Joel (2020-08-18). “The Rhetorical Situation”. WRITE WHAT MATTERS.
18. ^ Downs, Douglas; Wardle, Elizabeth (2007). “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisionin”. College Composition and Communication. 58 (4): 552–584.
ISSN 0010-096X.
19. ^ “Response to Downs and Wardle and Their Critics • Locutorium”. Locutorium. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mukumbura/3957488431/’]