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Ede, Lisa, and Andrea Lunsford. "Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked: The Role of Audience in Composition Theory and Pedagogy." CCC 35 (May 1984): 155–71. Rpt. in Corbett, Myers, and Tate .
Two divergent views of audience face the writing teacher, one claiming that it is crucial to writing instruction to identify a real audience (the audience addressed), the other claiming that the audience is fictional and a function of signals given in texts (the audience invoked). Both views miss the dynamic quality of rhetorical situations and the interdependence of reading and writing. To emphasize the audience as addressed tends to undervalue both invention and ethics of language use in the effort to adapt to the "real" audience. On the other side, Ong's view of the audience as a fiction (see ), which contrasts the speaker's real, present audience with the writer's distant one, tends to overstate the reality of the speaker's audience as compared with the writer's. Rather, both senses of audience must be understood within the larger rhetorical situation and the many possible roles that may be taken by real readers and imagined by the writer. Braddock Award winner.
Writers should think about their audience, but not always. Some audiences help writers think better, others inhibit or intimidate. Faced with the latter, it is better to ignore the audience or pretend the audience is friendly during the early stages of writing. Not only can this overcome a block, it may lead to new thinking and knowledge. Indeed, this writer-based prose can be better than reader-based prose, in the same way that journal writing can be stronger than formal audience-directed writing. Writing to an audience has been characterized as the higher level cognitively, yet the ability to turn off the audience, to experiment with a more poetic form of language, should be seen as a higher level still.
Kirsch, Gesa, and Duane H. Roen. A Sense of Audience in Written Communication. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1990.
Ten essays on the history and theory of audience as a rhetorical concern and six essays reporting on empirical studies of writers' conceptions and use of audience include R. J. Willey, "Pre-Classical Roots of the Addressed/Invoked Dichotomy of Audience"; Stuart Brown and Thomas Willard, "George Campbell's Audience"; Barbara Tomlinson, "Ong May Be Wrong: Negotiating with Nonfictional Readers"; Bennett Rafoth, "The Concept of Discourse Community: Descriptive and Explanatory Adequacy"; Louise Wetherbee Phelps, "Audience and Authorship: The Disappearing Boundary"; Gesa Kirsch, "Experienced Writers' Sense of Audience and Authority: Three Case Studies."
Kroll, Barry M. "Writing for Readers: Three Perspectives on Audience." CCC 35 (May 1984): 172–85.
Three conceptions of audience are influential in composition teaching: rhetorical, informational, and social. The rhetorical perspective draws from classical theory and recommends adapting speech or writing to the characteristics of the audience. This advice is generally good, but the perspective is flawed: it casts audiences as adversarial, it ignores the impossibility of characterizing most audiences, and it takes an unsophisticated view of reader psychology. The second approach is that writing must convey information to the reader effectively, by attending to the difficulties readers have extracting meaning from texts. But this model, criticized thoroughly by Dillon , tends to give a mechanistic and reductive account of text-processing. The third approach is that writing is a social activity like all communication, requiring a decentering from the self that allows the speaker or writer to take another's perspective. Collaborative writing and reader feedback support this approach pedagogically. The "sense of audience" promoted here, though, is vague, and it can be objected that writing is not social but rhetorical, more connected to genre and convention than to social knowledge.
Ong, Walter J., S.J. "The Writer's Audience Is Always a Fiction." PMLA 90 (January 1975): 9–21.
Writers project audiences for their work by imagining the presumptive audiences of other pieces of writing. Readers seem willing to be fictionalized in this way—to be the audience projected by the writer—as long as the reader's role is familiar or the writer creates a new role persuasively. Thus, the writer's style or voice is a way of addressing an imagined audience that will respond in the desired way.
Audience, a crucial part of teaching writing, is difficult to define and to apply. The meanings tend to diverge, on the one hand, toward real people with a set of beliefs and expectations to which the discourse must be adjusted, and, on the other, toward a fictional audience implied by the text itself. In both cases, audience refers to aspects of knowledge and motivation that form the contexts for discourse. Even when identified, its characteristics remain complex; the general audience is that much more elusive. Instead of asking about audience, we might more usefully ask about the conventions that make a piece of writing meaningful to a range of readers, beginning with generally accepted conventions of form and moving toward more particular conventions associated with the subject or genre. Using the class as audience does not solve the problem of defining the appropriate rhetorical contexts. We ask our students to act in sophisticated ways when we call for sensitivity to audience, but we lack a clear understanding of the kinds of writing we ought to teach and fall instead into teaching vaguely defined general writing skills.
Petraglia, Joseph. "Spinning Like a Kite: A Closer Look at the Pseudotransactional Function of Writing." Journal of Advanced Composition 15 (1995): 19–33.
Transactional writing aims to get things done in the world, such as informing, persuading, or instructing. Most writing in composition classes, however, is pseudotransactional: while students are asked to consider audience, purpose, and appropriate persona, which seem to be rhetorical concerns, assignments often pose hypothetical cases while serving primarily as occasions for grading. Thus, students do not develop a truly rhetorical, self-reflective grasp of discursive practices. Composition teachers have failed to deal with the problem of pseudotransactionality. They either deny it through expressivist pedagogies claiming that students will provide "their own" purposes for writing, or escape it through assigning collaborative work, writing that tests knowledge of reading, or writing-across-the-curriculum. Composition scholars must not let their postmodern skepticism about the possibility of determining assignments' "authenticity" or "reality" prevent them from addressing this problem.
Porter, James E. Audience and Rhetoric: An Archeological Composition of the Discourse Community. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1992.
From the Western rhetorical tradition, we have inherited a conception of "audience" as a group of real people passively listening to an oral discourse, mere receivers of the communicator's message. Contemporary theory has disrupted this conception, however, with claims that "audience" is actually imagined by the author or called up by the text itself, or even that the notion of discrete individuals who could send or receive messages is problematic. With a survey of conceptions of audience from Aristotle to George Campbell to the New Rhetoric, reader-response criticism, and social constructionism, Porter shows that other disciplinary concerns, as well as cultural and political trends, tend to influence what concept of audience prevails. Porter advocates adherence to a social constructionist view in which the audience collaborates with the writer or speaker in various ways from the beginning of the composing process.