Week 2 Response

A number of things stood out to me in this weeks readings. I’m going to go ahead and put out there that I did have some difficulty in the beginning. If there is anything wrong or anything that could be further elaborated on, please chime in.

In the first article, there was a section where the author talked about technical writing and its concerns with both reader analysis and reality. In the beginning of the reading I could see how rhetoric and technical writing could be viewed as two completely separate subjects; however, I quickly remembered that there is always meaning behind writing a text and THAT is where I figured rhetoric could be applied. It dawned on me that although technical and professional writing is considered to be fact-based, writing style and clarity in a piece of writing itself depends solely on the interpretation of the writing to the reader (hope that makes sense). The science behind technical writing tells us that everything that is to be written down must be factual, but the understanding of these facts depends solely on the writer and reader. What kind of audience does the writer want to appeal to? A general audience? A career specific audience? What is the reasoning behind this? The list of questions go on and on. In this particular scenario, rhetoric can now be applied to the positivist legacy of technical writing that is brought up in the aforementioned piece. Why? Because audience adaptation tells us that 1) a technical piece is often goal specific (which, too, requires the composer to be specific), and 2) one persons perception/interpretation of words and ideas often varies from the next. Needless to say, this article definitely grabbed my attention.

In the second article, I found the rhetoric behind the memo interesting just as much as I found it disturbing. I, unfortunately, even before the author gave his reasoning for writing the article thought of ways that ‘ethics of expediency’ has saturated other areas of Western culture. Sure enough, the further I read a long I noticed the author explain how the relationship between rhetoric and ethics had always been ‘uneasy’. I thought about how pharmaceutical companies advertise medicines nowadays. A pill may in fact decrease blood pressure and be advertised for all of its positive effects, but if there is anything negative associated with the medicine it will purposefully be ignored, creatively downplayed, or given very little attention to. The rhetoric behind the memo in the article and the creation of the advertisement lies primarily lies with motive of the writers/promoters. The more I read, the more I saw how technical writing and rhetoric are nowhere near exclusive, despite outer appearances.

In the last three articles, all authors make mention of where technical and professional writing fit within academia. Interestingly enough, even upon entering this course and having no idea of what ‘theory of professional communication’ or technical writing was I never once questioned if the subject could be practiced separately from English. During my undergrad, my major was English and my minor was Communication. Writing, reading, speaking, etc. seemed to naturally tie together for me since they all deal with language in some way. Now that we’ve started digging into the readings, I can only wonder what other ways we are to apply rhetoric to technical writing this semester.


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