ERIC Number: ED396309
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
"Does This Paper Have To Have an Audience?": Freshman Writers and Public Discourse.
In a Purdue University English 101 class, students were told to identify an audience outside the classroom for each paper they wrote. The central challenge to composition teachers is preserving elements valued in teaching academic writing in the context of ill-defined problems to be addressed outside the classroom. Most useful for instructors teaching "completely ordinary and yet utterly remarkable students" is the model of Linda Flower and her colleagues at the Community Literacy Center in Pittsburgh who work with inner city teens. James Berlin offers an academic curriculum--as powerful as it might be in helping students understand the world, it does not bring student writing into the world. Lee Odell argues that typical academic writing assignments fail to challenge students to understand and address complex rhetorical situations. When students are asked to choose, investigate, and write about a local issue, they need to decide the most powerful place to make their case and to reach their audience. A two-paper assignment allows students to first prepare a research report outlining various points of view and political factors. The second paper is the student's contribution to public discourse on the issue. For example, a married student wrote to the mayor about the need for the city to take an active role in developing affordable housing and received a two-page personal response from the mayor. Students' rhetorical strategies were observed to shift after they learned to investigate their audience's roles and values. (Contains six references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Public Discourse; Purdue University IN; Rhetorical Strategies
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (47th, Milwaukee, WI, March 27-30, 1996).