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Assignment: Audience A Writing Across the Curriculum & Writing in the Disciplines Professional Development Presentation Dr. Robert T. Koch Jr. Director,

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Presentation on theme: "Assignment: Audience A Writing Across the Curriculum & Writing in the Disciplines Professional Development Presentation Dr. Robert T. Koch Jr. Director,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Assignment: Audience A Writing Across the Curriculum & Writing in the Disciplines Professional Development Presentation Dr. Robert T. Koch Jr. Director, Center for Writing Excellence University of North Alabama September 11, 2008

2 Today’s Goals Examine the role audience plays in our writing assignments. Examine the role audience plays in our writing assignments. Identify the audiences of our disciplines. Identify the audiences of our disciplines. Consider the opportunities these audiences present for assignment development. Consider the opportunities these audiences present for assignment development. Consider ways to reshape our current assignments. Consider ways to reshape our current assignments.

3 Audience in Composition Higher Order Issue with ties to purpose Higher Order Issue with ties to purposeWriter Reader Text

4 Audience in Composition For writers to familiarize themselves with the rhetorical situation in which they are writing For writers to familiarize themselves with the rhetorical situation in which they are writing What do I have to say? What do I have to say? To or before whom is it being said? To or before whom is it being said? Under what circumstances? Under what circumstances? What are the audience predispositions? What are the audience predispositions? How much time or space do I have? (Corbett, 1997, p.290) How much time or space do I have? (Corbett, 1997, p.290)

5 The Problem with Audience Are these analogous? Are these analogous? Speaker  Voice  Audience with Writer  Text  Audience or is it Speaker  Voice  Audience with Writer  Text  Reader

6 The Problem with Audience The concept of audience is misleading when used to describe a relationship that involves a writer (as opposed to a speaker). This is because while there may be a specific and very real audience, readers, being already plural, defy any effort to gather under a single identity. Consequently, the writer must make up an audience (or more accurately, reader) to direct his or her writing towards. (Ong, 1997, p. 58-9)

7 The Problem with Audience Results of this misleading concept: Results of this misleading concept: “The writer must construct in his imagination… an audience cast in some sort of role” (Ong, 1997, p. 60) “The writer must construct in his imagination… an audience cast in some sort of role” (Ong, 1997, p. 60) “A reader has to play the role in which the author has cast him, which seldom coincides with his role in the rest of actual life” (Ong, 1997, p. 60). “A reader has to play the role in which the author has cast him, which seldom coincides with his role in the rest of actual life” (Ong, 1997, p. 60).

8 So Who Do They Write For? An idealized “intellectual” An idealized “intellectual” Nobody in particular Nobody in particular Themselves (for presentation, not for learning) Themselves (for presentation, not for learning) No Matter which they choose, each can cause problems!

9 Other Reasons Faculty should help students address audience because: Faculty should help students address audience because: Students don’t normally value knowledge distinct from audience & purpose. Students don’t normally value knowledge distinct from audience & purpose. Faculty can situate the assignment within a real- world context. Faculty can situate the assignment within a real- world context. This is an opportunity to explore the literature of the discipline. This is an opportunity to explore the literature of the discipline. And, again, audience (and Purpose) are foundational to good writing. And, again, audience (and Purpose) are foundational to good writing.

10 Who Could Their Audiences Be? Practicing Professionals Practicing Professionals Faculty Faculty Journal and Book Editors Journal and Book Editors Graduate Students Graduate Students Peers Peers __________ __________

11 Developing Audience Develop purpose beyond simply finding out what they know. Develop purpose beyond simply finding out what they know. Discuss in Class, or Explain in Syllabus or Assignment Sheet. Discuss in Class, or Explain in Syllabus or Assignment Sheet. Ask the following: Ask the following: Who is this paper, report, summary, reflection, etc. most likely to be read by if it were in a real situation? Who is this paper, report, summary, reflection, etc. most likely to be read by if it were in a real situation? What is this reader’s professional situation? What is this reader’s professional situation? What is his or her intellectual knowledge? What is his or her intellectual knowledge? What does he or she believe? What does he or she believe? What will matter to this reader? What will matter to this reader? What style and tone does this reader expect? What style and tone does this reader expect?

12 More Advanced Strategies Suggest or require students to read the journals in your discipline to find out more about audience / who they should write for. Suggest or require students to read the journals in your discipline to find out more about audience / who they should write for. Involve students in undergraduate research activities to discover what is important to research audiences and professionals. Involve students in undergraduate research activities to discover what is important to research audiences and professionals. Have the student use writing in service-learning or other projects where the texts carry significance beyond a grade. Have the student use writing in service-learning or other projects where the texts carry significance beyond a grade.

13 References Corbett, E. P. J., & Conners, R. (1999). Classical rhetoric for the modern student (4 th ed.). New York: Oxford. Ong, W. J. (1997). The writer’s audience is always a fiction. In V. Villanueva (Ed.) Cross-talk in comp theory: A reader (pp ). Urbana, IL: NCTE.


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