7 Rhetorical Analysis and Genre

David Feliz, class of 2020; Miranda Liberto, class of 2021; Timothy Spurrier, class of 2021; and Seng Tsin, class of 2023

Rhetoric is the use of words to convey meaning. Rhetorical analysis in composition is the evaluation of how the written words come together to form meaning. It examines the writer’s method of sharing information, using persuasion, or entertaining. The analysis should cover the appeal to readers’ values (ethos), logic (logos), or emotions (pathos). It should also cover the content or topic, writer’s purpose for writing the text, context in which the topic is covered, target audience of the text, the ethical stance of the author, the genre of the text, and the rhetorical situation.

Rhetorical situation is the circumstance which provides the genesis for the rhetoric used. When learning about genres in a rhetorical situation, it is important to recognize the patterns present in the text. It is important not only to understand the material one is reading, but to also be aware of the writer’s purpose and intent, and the context of what is being conveyed to the audience. Genres not only allow the reader to better understand, but they also help the writer with his or her writing process. So, what specifically is a genre and how can it help one’s understanding of the written word?

A genre is a type or style of writing. Knowing the genre of a text will help one have a better understanding of where the author is coming from. This knowledge will also help one to interpret the writing and identify the author’s intended audience. A solid approach begins with finding examples, looking for patterns, identifying standards and conventions, and applying those to the writing situation.[1]

There are many types of genres, for example, book genres include fiction, nonfiction, biographies, autobiographies, and fairytales. But when it comes to business writing, some examples of different genres include memos, proposals, reports, and resumes.

Business Genres

In every work of writing, the genre is specifically structured and formatted in response to a rhetorical situation – audience, purpose, tone, content, etc..[2] Genres are the communication methods used to connect to the intended audience. When beginning to write, one must first determine the desired audience to structure and format the genre to fit the audiences’ preferences.

Understanding the premises of discourse communities is an essential component to understanding genres in composition. Once an understanding of both discourse communities and genres in composition is established, one will be able to further recognize the connection between specific genres and their place in a discourse community. For example, financial statements may be more common in an accounting discourse community, while billboards may be used in advertisement across discourse communities.

Examples of genres in professional composition may include financial statements, memos, scholarly articles, emails, or even billboards.

In business composition, genres serve as forms of communication within each discourse community. Gaining a strong understanding of genres and their purpose in communication within discourse communities is an essential component for success in composition and research as well as in the business world.

Rhetorical analysis: A discussion

Go the Expository Writing Boot Camp and analyze the text, “Gender Is a Culturally Prescribed Role, Rather Than a Biological Sex.” found under the heading: Analyze this Introduction to Expository Essay.

Then share your perspective on what the author is trying to convey. Consider the tone, the content, context in which the author tells the story (rhetorical situation), purpose, audience, and ethical stance (morals, values).

  1. Professorrome. (2010, Oct. 21). Genre & Rhetorical Situation Review. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1g67LhcXeJ8.
  2. Dusseau, D. (n.d.). Genres of Business writing. Dark Wing U Oregon. https://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~ddusseau/101/199/199GENRES.htm


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Been There, Done That: The Business Student’s Guide to Rhetorical Analysis & Discourse Communities Copyright © 2020 by David Feliz, class of 2020; Miranda Liberto, class of 2021; Timothy Spurrier, class of 2021; and Seng Tsin, class of 2023 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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