The Texualized Rhetorical Situation

We like to think that a rhetorical object - a wikipage, an essay - is a direct expression of a producer. But the rhetorical situation is more complex when we're dealing with a printed, or digitized text, whether made up of just words, or words, images, layout. In this case, we focus on how the object mediates - stands between - actual rhetor and actual reader.

The model below, adapted from Longaker and Walker, is how we're looking at the rhetorical situation. The text itself - a speech, an essay, a webpage - creates or projects an implied rhetor and an implied audience.

The textualized situation can be represented as shown in Figure 2.2. Once again, this basic description deserves elaboration:

However, it also works the other way: We tend to ascribe to the actual rhetor the values of the implied rhetor. Rhetorical analysis cannot actually reach this actual rhetor directly but only by way of mediation, through the rhetorical artifacts they create.

Diagram and text adapted from Longaker and Walker, Rhetorical Analysis, pp 16-18.

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