Audience Addressed and Audience Invoked Paper

Audience Addressed and Audience Invoked Paper

There are two theories which are debated about considering audience—meaning how audience becomes involved in the text. The question is: is audience addressed or is audience invoked? Or, is it both? Both theories are plausible and Ede and Lunsford believe writing is both. Audience addressed and audience invoked are both argued by several theorists, but I will focus on Bitzer, Aristotle, Long, Gibson, and Ede and Lunsford.

Audience addressed gives attention to audience analysis and addresses the audience hoping to have a desired effect. By audience analysis, the addressed view hopes to create their audience by “packaging” their information, usually in a persuasive manner, to communicate their truth. This was the main idea of Aristotle’s view, where the writer determines the content and the message they want to communicate before an audience, and then analyzes the audience (e.g. age, education, beliefs, etc…) and “packages” the information accordingly.

Bitzer was also an addressed theorist, and his view had addressed a rhetorical audience that could be involved in a rhetorical situation. In order for a situation to be rhetorical, three constituents are needed: exigence, constraints, and the aforementioned rhetorical audience (6). An exigence is “an imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other that it should be” (6). Not every exigence is rhetorical, though. Only an exigence that can be positively modified is a rhetorical exigence. Some examples are air pollution and jurious acts (Bitzer 7). The rhetor is influenced by the constraints which the rhetor believes are genuine issues the audience can reciprocate as needing to be changed. The rhetorical audience consists only of people who are capable of being persuaded by the rhetor’s response of the situations. The discourse presented must also be fitting to the situation. This means the information presented should be “packaged,” or given in a way which is persuasive and makes the audience perceive the exigence as a something needing to be changed. The rhetor determines how to deliver a fitting response by determining the audience they wish to address, so we can conclude that Bitzer is unquestionably an audience addressed theorist.

The audience invoked view believes audience is created by the text by fictionalizing themselves within the text made able by language and grammar. Ede and Lunsford describe the invoked view as “the writer uses the semantic and syntactic resources of language to provide cues for the reader—cues which help to define the role or roles the writer wishes the reader to adopt in responding to the text” (160).

Ong was an audience invoked theorist. He believed readers fictionalize themselves in a role in the text. The creation of that role is possible by authors looking to past texts which have created successful roles, roles which could inspire a writer to write in the same style (Ong 11). The writer takes these roles which were successful in the past and puts them to use in their own texts. The audience is then able to take on the roles created because the roles are similar to roles which they have taken on before. Ong illustrates this works with his example of Ernest Hemmingway’s Farewell to Arms being inspired by Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Hemmingway’s story created a successful role because it was similar to what his desired audience had read before (Ong 12-15).

Gibson believes readers take on the roles of the text also, but there are different degrees of willingness based on the attitudes and qualities of the language (1). Gibson coined the term mock reader or the fictitious reader who is the real reader (or real person) as they are engaged in the text (2). Gibson describes mock readers as “a [reader’s] fictitious modification of themselves” (5). As a person is reading, they become the mock reader, but if they cannot take on the role the text provides, they are less willing to read it. Gibson provides us with an example of what he considers as “bad writing” which he separates the third sentence from the paragraph: “Twenty-two years old, tall, blond, […] powerful shoulders […] Alan found no difficulty in making friends” (5). Gibson believes this is a “bad writing” role which some readers won’t be able to accept because there is no relativity between broad shoulders and making friends (5). Regardless if there are varying degrees of willingness to take on roles for readers, the roles are created by the writer and we can place Gibson, too, in the invoked category.

Ede and Lunsford believe readers are both addressed and invoked to an extent, but leave out the important detail of the rhetorical situation. Their rhetorical situation differs from Bitzer’s, however, because this rhetorical situation is addressing a problem or exigence, though not always a problem, and is trying to communicate in an effective way for an audience. They criticize Ong’s theory saying “[speakers and writers can lack] intimate knowledge of their audience, which comprises not a collectivity but a disparate, and possibly even divided, group of individuals” (161). This supports their claim since writing is more complicated than just creating a role for the audience because the rhetorical situation is not dealt with. They criticize audience addressed as not dealing with the fact that readers must “rely in large part upon their own vision of the reader, which they create, as readers do their vision of writers, according to their own experiences and expectations” (158). The rhetorical situation is missed because language, experiences and expectations (roles) are the necessary to communicate effectively for an audience.

The addressed view analyzes audience, and “packages” discourse in order to achieve their goals while communicating with an audience. The invoked view creates roles for the reader, which Ong says is accomplished by analyzing past texts, and Gibson believes those roles have different degrees of willingness for different readers. Ede and Lunsford are both addressed and invoked, but claim the rhetorical situation is not emphasized enough.