The Rhetorical Triangle
When you read a text, start asking three questions:
· Who is the author of the text?
· Who is the intended audience for the text?
· What is the purpose of the text?
AAuthor: When you read a text, try to find out as much about the author as you possibly can:
· Who is the author?
· What do you know about the author?
· Is he/she trustworthy? Why?
· What else has he/she written on the subject?
When you write your own papers, you will need to convince your reader about your own trustworthiness and credibility the same way that you need to satisfy your own curiosity about the author of a text you read.
AAudience: There are many different types of audiences. When you read a text, it is important to know who the intended audience is. When you write a text, it is integral to know who your readers are. Identify the audience based on the following questions:
· Who is my audience? What do they mean to me?
· What is their interest in the subject?
· What do they know about the subject?
· How do they feel about the subject?
· How does the writer expect them to respond to their topic?
APurpose: When writing, address your audience for a specific purpose and develop the necessary strategies to get what you want. When reading, identify what a writer wants from you. Writers can have numerous purposes which change from situation to situation and audience to audience. Ask yourself these questions:
· Does the writer propose something?
· Does the writer convey specific information?
· Does the writer convince you of something?
· Does the writer try to sell something?
*Consider these questions when writing your own argument essay.
When you read or write a text, think about the context in which reading and writing takes place. There are three primary contexts:
· Temporal: where you are at a given time.
· Spatial: encompasses the social, cultural and historical origins.
· Causal: grows out of the interactions of time and space.
Ask the following questions to figure out the context in which a text is created:
· What is the context of the text?
· What is the immediate context for my reading the text?
· What is the larger context of this reading?
· How and where do I fit into these contexts?
© University Writing Program
Northern Arizona University