Myths and Realties

When Not to Respond

Designing Writing Assignments

Commenting: Margins and End

Commenting on Drafts


Helping Students Learn Editing

Helping Students Learn to Fix Errors

Overview of Rhetorical Context

Discipline Specific Resources

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Authors & Contributors

Putting the More Complex Figure in Context

We still aren't finished, though, because these interactions don't take place in a vacuum. Writing also happens in a cultural and historical context at the very least. For instance, if I wrote about rhetoric 150 years ago, I would write much longer sentences and denser paragraphs because my readers would expect those. If we were living in 1850, I would, in effect, offend you with these short sentences and paragraphs. The historical conventions for text change dramatically over time.

So do cultural conventions. If we were reading and writing in 1850, we would be mostly upper- and middle-class city dwellers. Even in 1850, folks low on the socioeconomic scale were much less likely to be literate. Because candles were expensive and rural dwellers were much too busy to read, most publications were targeted to city dwellers. Moreover, as a woman, I wouldn't be taken seriously as a writer on this topic, so I probably couldn't publish anything on rhetoric unless I assumed a man's name. And women readers would be scarce-the brave or rebellious ones who subscribed to a lending library that might have secured a book on rhetoric for male readers who were assumed to be more interested in these ideas.