I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the various approaches to audience that rhetoric and composition scholars have taken over the years.  The obvious categorization (invoked vs. addressed, a la Ede and Lunsford) seems like an epistemological distinction, even though it is actually practical.  What I mean: the argument seems to be over whether it is possible for an author to know, and write to/accomodate the interests of, a specific audience.  More colloquially: whether, when writing, one is writing to actual people or to people in one’s head.  More academically: Foucault’s Death of the Author in reverse.

Ede and Lunsford, and anyone else who talks about this distinction, are usually saavy enough Rhet/Comp folks to know that they have to bring things back to practicality at least somewhat: what do these different concepts of audience mean for classroom practices?  I haven’t really read, yet, the article on pseudotransactional writing that I glanced at the other day (maybe Jenny Edbauer brought it up when she was teaching the 602 for 202D?  I don’t know), but I have a feeling there are a lot of such arguments, focused on ignoring/not ignoring audience (I love Peter Elbow, even if I think he’s a little off his nut).

I’m not really sure where I’m going to fit in to all of this, or whether the field of Rhet/Comp really needs more work on audience, but I know that this subject at least lets me wed the theoretical and practical interests I have…

I should prepare for teaching today.  More discussion of audience to follow, I would imagine…

Advertisements