Three: Readings & Activities

Providing a thorough knowledge of the nature of composition, we open our students to composition outside the classroom through the rhetorical situation and a preliminary vocabulary in classical rhetoric. The unit opens with Lloyd Bitzer’s (1968) “The Rhetorical Situation” to introduce the concepts of exigence and audience. In addition, we chose supplemental readings from the textbook that introduced Aristotle’s rhetorical proofs and the Ciceronian model of arrangement. With this very rudimentary understanding of rhetoric, we provide students examples of multiple texts in class, asking them to identify exigencies and audiences. However, constraints can be challenging for composition students. As a demonstration of sorts, we visualize on the whiteboard how an exigence and audience “constrain” the type of arguments available to a composer, narrowing down the available means of persuasion. And given that certain audiences respond positively to different types of texts, we attempt to show that media, modes, and genres are also constraints influenced by the choice of exigence and audience.