Portfolio 3: Audience and Context Comparative Analysis
assignment (which we will refer to as the context comparison) serves as
prewriting for your arguing essays by providing an opportunity to analyze the
audiences and contexts for your arguments. Understanding your two audiences is
important since you need to know who your readers are before you can
effectively convince them to consider your arguments. Examining your contexts
is equally important because your argument will only be taken seriously or be
considered for publication if it meets context expectations. Since you are
examining two contexts, the assignment implies that you’ll need to think about
how you would compare and contrast these writing situations, even though the
format of this written analysis doesn’t require the formal use of the
comparison/contrast mode of writing.
Purposes for this Analysis:
To distinguish the audiences and
contexts of two arguing essays.
Audience: You and
Length of the Analysis: Your analysis should be roughly 750-1000
words (or 3-4 pages) in length.
Format of the Analysis: You need not think of this assignment as a
paper. Your analysis will consist of three parts. You may use headings. You may
also number your responses. You do NOT need to think of this as a
comparison/contrast paper even though your thinking will compel you to consider
the similarities and differences between two distinctive publications.
Part I - Purpose
will you argue? What is your position on this issue? How might your
position need to be adapted or modified for the differing contexts?
both of your arguments be intended to convince or will one or both be
persuasive in purpose?
do you hope to accomplish with each argument? What might you reasonably
hope to achieve with these audiences? (Note: your answer should be quite
different for each publication. Also, be as specific here as possible.)
else might you hope to accomplish by entering this discussion/conversation
in the context of these two publications (make a name for yourself,
challenge authority, etc.)
the main tentative claim for each of your arguments.
Part II - Context Analysis
will your readers encounter your first argument? Please name the specific
person, journal, magazine, or organization that you will write to for
Argument 1. In general how does this publication compare and contrast with
your assigned audience for the second arguing essay, the Editorial page of
the New York Times?
your contexts for writing. In order to sufficiently complete this section,
you'll need to familiarize yourself with the publication context you've
chosen and reacquaint yourself with the New York Times Editorial
page. Research and read two or three existing copies of your selected
publication to learn what the expectations and requirements are. Please
also continue to read the Editorial page of the Times. When you are
ready, use the following questions to guide the development of your
comparison, and develop your response to at least a few paragraphs to
provide sufficient detail for my understanding.
What is each publication’s general purpose?
Who are the target readers of each?
What type of content is most suitable for each
publication? What kinds of topics and issues are typically addressed within
What is the appropriate length of a text written
for these publications?
What do typical pieces of writing for these
publications look like? (Describe fully.)
How would you describe the tone, style, and
register (level of formality in word choice, use of jargon, etc.) used by
writers whose work appear in these publications?
What patterns can you note? (i.e. Do all
articles or columns begin the same way? Are most arguments well supported? Are
they highly opinionated?)
Are there specific requirements of which you
should be aware, such as guidelines for citing sources?
are the two or three most important things you'll need to keep in mind
about the expectations and requirements of these publications when you're
writing your argument?
are the most important differences between the two contexts you’ll be
Part III - Audience Analysis
will your target audiences be? Define them specifically in terms of age,
economic status, social class, gender, education, and so forth.
did you choose the first audience? How is it distinguishable from the
audience for the New York Times Editorial page?
can your readers in each publication already be expected to know about
your issue? What will they want or need to know? What are their typical
attitudes or viewpoints toward your issue? How are their views similar to
your own? How do they differ? How are the views of readers of the two
publications similar and different from each other?
social and cultural factors might account for the similarities and
differences in the readers of these two publications? How might your own
social and cultural background account for the difference in your
perspective from either or both of these publications?