WRD360: Word on the Street: The Rhetoric of Everyday Texts Rotating Header Image

Defining “everyday texts”

One of our first tasks will be to decide together what counts as an everyday text? These are generative prompts meant to get us started:

— Diana George: “The Word On the Street: Public Discourse in a Culture of Disconnect.”

In what can be called a “culture of disconnect,” students and teachers alike often want to engage in public discourse but do not know where to begin. The newsletters and newspapers produced to support the work of small, alternative hospitality houses and prison ministries reveal the role communication plays in the lives of active participants in democracy and show how communities of people who choose to write and publish learn from each other s examples. These extraordinary words of ordinary men and women, writing for local, often little known causes, offer ways of understanding what may motivate writers to begin to assume a meaningful public voice.

— Glenn Stillar: Analyzing Everyday Texts: Discourse, Rhetoric, and Social Perspectives

” …everyday texts such as personal notes, brochures, advertisements, and reports. We interact with these sorts of texts all the time: We sort through junk mail, we correspond with coworkers, we flip through magazines and newspapers, we skim over promotional literature, we ponder legal and medical reports, we surf the internet, and so on. Everyday written texts produce a variety of responses in us: We may be incensed by the language of an advertisement, puzzled by a colleague’s memo, or amused by a bulletin-board posting; we may feel threatened by a medical report or suspicious of a brochure’s promises; or we may quite simply ignore some texts— this, too, is a response. In each case, the text is an impetus for our active response.”

“Everyday texts are ubiquitous and play a significant role in our exchanges with others in social life. Their complexity and their consequences, however, do not often receive close critical attention. No matter how mundane we may take these types of texts to be, they all:

  • Exhibit complexity in terms of the linguistic resources we draw upon to make and understand them
  • Perform critical rhetorical functions for the participants involved
  • Powerfully summon and propagate the social orders in which we live
  • [Paraphrasing Katie] Everyday texts are constitutive of something or someone; as agents of communication, they surround us constantly, and it is surely to our benefit to be able to understand what they’re saying

SAC bulletin board, April 14th, 2014