This idea of rhetorical writing seems rhetorical almost in itself, but then at the same time, not very well known at all. What we think when we read and how we interpret it is not something that we usually stop to think about.
Three points the article emphasizes are:
1. The meaning we develop when we read are both a result of information directly presented in the text and information that we add on as a result of our experiences and our environment.
2. Sophisticated readers know how to look beyond just the content, or knowledge searching when reading, to piece together the connections behind the author’s intention, audience, and purpose of the writing.
3. Those who practice rhetorical reading are able to get more meaning out of what they read, inferring claims that are not explicitly stated.
It’s very interesting to read the paragraph and see where I fall in the spectrum of readers. Although I pick up on some claims, I can also see myself referring to just the content or glazing over any deeper connections as I rush to read more to find more meaning in the entire piece as a whole. The way we process information now seems to be all about summary, grabbing the main essence of the piece.
But how are we to really know what the author’s intentions were? That is the common debate in English class in that how do we know all the hidden meanings that the author may or may not have wanted to address? No one will really know for sure except for the author, but this article does present a very good way for considering the different angles that we could approach to finding the intent behind writing. It’s a starting point to see if we can relate this piece to everything else we know about the world and other similar topics and not just see it as an insulated piece of paper with words on it. In a time when we are constantly trying to connect and interact, having the skills to join things and see how they fit together could be very valuable, in any type of setting.
I only wish there was an actual way to become a more rhetorical reader. How do we practice so that we begin to see these meanings? Is it just a result of lots of reading and conscious thinking about making these types of connections? Or does it have to do with how much life experience you have so that you can truly empathize with all the different things the author could be trying to say?
Either way, I think this article presents a very interesting approach to writing and one that I am excited to try out.