Exercise 3: analysing rhetorical situations

Exercise 3

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After reading Keith Grant-Davie’s article about rhetorical situations, try to apply what you’ve learned from it to some real-life rhetorical situations. For this assignment, you’ll choose some texts and analyze the rhetorical situations that brought about those texts in order to determine the constituents of those situations, as Grant-Davie defines “rhetorical situation.”

In a nutshell, you’ll choose two texts and identify their exigences, rhetors, audiences, and constraints. It may help to think of this assignment as a continuation of, or companion to, “Identifying Motives, Values, and Appeals” in the previous lesson. You might even choose, as one of your texts, the same text you chose as your second text in that assignment.

Therefore, as with the previous exercise, you might choose your texts from among the following:

  • A short YouTube video (such as a Super Bowl commercial)
  • A brief news report or editorial
  • A post from your favorite blog
  • An infographic
  • A brief comic strip
  • Others (consult with your instructor)

You may choose the format your analysis takes. It is just as appropriate here to make a bulleted list of each constituent as it is to write complete paragraphs for each situation. 

Be sure to include some sort of access to your chosen texts (links, scans, bibliographic information, etc.)


Successful analyses of your chosen texts will include the following traits:

  • It identifies the exigences, rhetors, audiences, and constraints for both rhetorical situations. (8 points, or 1 point for each constituent for each situation)
  • It includes access to each chosen text. (2 points, or 1 point for each text)

Exercise 4: Responding to Rhetorical Situations

In the previous activity, you analyzed some “outside” rhetorical situations. Now, think about some of the rhetorical situations you’ve directly encountered in your life. Choose three of those situations. They can be everyday rhetorical situations, such as when you go to the checkout counter at a grocery store, or they can be special situations, such as when you broke up with a significant other or when you encouraged a friend in the faith during a time of struggles. 

For each of your three chosen rhetorical situations, determine what the constituents of the situation are (as defined by Keith Grant-Davie). What is the exigence of the situation? Who are the rhetors and audiences? What are the constraints? You may choose, additionally, to identify other rhetorical elements of the situation (such as the motives, kairos, or appealed values). 

Finally, include how you respond or have responded to these rhetorical situations and how each of the constituents has possibly influenced that response. You might instead consider how your response, in turn, shapes the situation. 


A successful report will include the following traits: 

  • It identifies the constituents of the rhetorical situation—the exigence, rhetors, audience, and constraints—for each of your three chosen situations. (12 points, or 1 points for each constituent for each situation) 
  • It includes an explanation or exploration of how you respond(ed) to these situations. (3 points, or 1 point for each situation) 
  • It includes some consideration about how the rhetorical situation may have influenced your response or how your response affects the situation. (3 points, or 1 point for each situation) 

Total possible score: 18 points 

Grant-Davie: “Rhetorical Situations and Their Constituents” (pages 484-508)

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