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Text and Context Exercise

S&P chap 4

See SomeTechniquesForObserving

The exercise

Start a new page from your WikiName page, titled TextAndContextExercise - followed by your initials. Work in that page, using headings to organize your notes.

Below are three web pages that represent three different web sites, and three different rhetorical contexts.

In your work on this exercise, use only this web page - no need to follow links - but use the entire page, not just the text in the center of the page. There are different kinds of text working here, plus images, and there are various methods of organization. The text itself is short but vital to describe and work with - so don't shortchange that.

For each

1. Describe the page - and then characterize it - as you did in the previous exercise. Use a planned survey. I'd suggest you take some preliminary notes even before you begin composing a description. The notes - along with following a planned survey - prompt you to look and look again, and then look a third time to see what you missed the first and second time.

=== Notes for description ===

=== Description of page ===

=== Characterization of page ===

2. Then go on to describe the rhetorical context: the elements of situation in which the text is operating. S&P pp 54ff. At this point, you'll find that description is going to start feeling more like consideration and speculation as you have to infer some of the features of the rhetorical context from the message you're looking at, and from what you know about those contexts. You'll need to consider multiple possible situations and develop a way of presenting those possibles. Keep your language neutral, get as specific as possible in the context, maintain a balcony view, and you'll find you'll be able to consider reasonable possibilities. S&P have good examples of thinking this through on pp 52-58. A final suggestion: Work with what so see in the message, not by what you expect to see or want to see.

Describe the context under three headings:

Describe the specific circumstances

Consider how the site is used and where it will be used. Might need to do some research into the specific circumstances of the site. Consider how it, or portions of it, might be responding to specific circumstances, such as special events or seasonal events. Consider the season, the year, any current events, and on the (inferable) circumstances of the audience reading the message.

Consider similar circumstances and similar messages

The tricky part here is developing a sense of similar and the variations. For instance, not all university websites are similar. They vary, and they probably vary by the rhetors's sense of specific circumstances and intended audience, which, in turn, is driven by other, local circumstances. A specific artifact in one genre may be more similar to artifacts in another genre. Research if necessary: Look at a few other sites addressing similar circumstances - they won't be identical.

Consider the (implied) rhetor and the (implied) audience

Not just demographics but psychographic information: the values and attitudes and ways of thinking and seeing that the message entails. The message presents the values of the implied rhetor. Consider especially the relationship between the two (S&P 57) as far as that relationship is inferable from the message.

Text and Context Part 2

Coming Saturday

4. Now consider the text-context interaction, S&P, pp 60ff. Drawing on your description of the page and the context, explain in a paragraph how the page/site responds to the rhetorical context. You'll start with deciding

contextual reconstruction

Adapted from TextAndContextInFourWebsitesProject
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