Building the Right House

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If composing a piece of writing is like building a house, then analyzing the rhetorical situation is like drawing up the blueprints. When building a house one must consider the needs and wants of the homeowners, your interest as a contractor in profit, the building codes, the lay of the land, and materials needed. When composing a piece of writing, one must consider the Reader, the Writer, the Context and the Text. Without analyzing these aspects of the rhetorical situation, chances are slim that you’ll build the right house.

The Reader and the Writer both have knowledge and experiences, feelings and desires. The Reader has expectations and the Writer has intentions. As the Writer, you must consider how these varying experiences and feelings interact, and how to intersect your intentions with the Reader’s expectations. You must also consider the Text of your writing—the words, images, and form. What are the best words to appeal to the Reader while staying true to your interests as the Writer? The best images? How can the form of the writing affect the Reader’s perception of it? And all of this must be examined within the Context—that is with the immediate situation and social/historical situation in mind.

A job application or resume has a Reader, Writer, Text, and Context. The Writer is the person applying, and that person has skills, employment history, desires for their future, and the intention to get a job. The Reader is the person doing the hiring, whether a HR employee or boss. They have history with the company/job, feelings about the kind of employee they want to hire, and expectations that the resume or application will meet their qualifications. The Text of the job application includes the Writer’s contact information, educational experience, employment history, qualifying skills, and sometimes an objective statement. It could include images or media depending on the job (maybe a graphic designer or videographer would include images or media) and the form of the resume. Is it print form, online, spoken over the phone? The Context is the specific job and how that job evolves through or effects broader social and historical situations.

Blakesley, D., & Hoogeveen, J. L. (2012). Writing and Rhetoric in Context. In Writing: A Manual for the Digital Age, Brief (2nd ed., pp. 3-14). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cenage Leaning.

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