“What is a rhetorical situation?” This was the first question Dr. Crisp asked in 5306: Writing for Business and Government. Because I’m old enough to actually want to watch 60 Minutes, I always equate the rhetorical situation to the bigger picture–it is when Lesley Stahl asks, “What were you thinking? Did you realize the consequences of …….?”
When I enrolled in this class I had the expectation that I’d learn more about grant writing, specifically writing proposals at the federal and state levels. In addition, I expected to learn and practice professional writing skills for the workplace. As with every class, what I learned exceeded my expectations. Dr. Crisp’s reading list was rich in the concepts of transactional writing, understanding and application of the rhetorical triangle and the rhetorical situation, and how individual experiences influence writing in relationship to ethics.
There were several key concepts from this class. Below I’ve listed the top four which deal specifically with rhetoric, audience, understanding employee hesitations in relationship to writing, and the art of crafting clear and concise technical writing:
- RTAA Formula: rapport, thinking, action, attitude
- making connections between the rhetorical triangle (audience, purpose, rhetorical situation) with Aristotle’s ethos, pathos, and logos and how this shapes writing
- understanding the thought processes by employees who write in the workplace and how these thoughts and feelings can be taken into consideration to facilitate effective workplace writing
- the concept of intertextuality in workplace writing and the art of weaving together words as a tapestry. The mere act looks so effortless yet is a beautiful choreography between writing and reading and reading and writing. Jack Selzer’s article on “Intertextuality and the Writing Process” sparked my interest and furthered my understanding of the rhetorical process in technical communication.
I took this course as a 5-week intensive course during the summer of 2014. Writing in the workplace used to be frustrating to me. It isn’t anymore. In fact, I love it and I’m happy when I’m creating organizational structure based upon strategic thought. Reynolds, in his article, “What Adult Work-World Writers Have Taught Me About Adult Work-World Writing” suggests “putting the person back into the prose.” These few words ignited a spark to get back to a classroom and teach people how to think, organize their thoughts, and then express themselves through the powerful and beautiful art of using words. Combining rhetorical theory with the practical application of technical communication is a perfect framework for teaching professional writing.
The final assignment was an opportunity to combine the concepts and theories of transactional writing and the intertextuality process into a summary of my understanding of these concepts. I chose to create a framework/outline to teach technical communication in the workplace.
In the final writing opportunity I attempted to connect the concepts of the rhetorical triangle (audience, purpose, rhetorical situation) to the practicalities of workplace writing. In addition, I created a lesson plan that demonstrates the concepts of the concepts of transactional writing, the components of the rhetorical triangle, and the value in collaborative writing and participation in discourse communities.