Unstable Situations: A Rhetorical Approach to Studying Blogs about Muslims




Pashaei, Fatima

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The emergence of Internet writing, particularly blog writing, has complicated our understanding of the ―rhetorical situation,‖ as first articulated by Lloyd Bitzer. As a basic definition, the rhetorical situation consists of the author/rhetor, audience, constraints, exigence and text. As the genre of the blog emerged shortly after the millennium, the basic premise of Bitzer‘s definition needs to be revised to incorporate how rhetorical situations operate in the blogosphere and specifically how the concept of audience, exigence, and invention need to be reconceptualized in this genre. Whereas Bitzer saw the rhetorical situation as consisting of separate and discrete elements, in the blogosphere these concepts appear to shift and transform through social and historical fluxes, making for a more ―fluid‖ rhetorical situation that inevitably raises doubts about the stability of the genre itself. Since many trace the origins of the genre of blogging to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, an analysis of blogs relating to Muslims will serve as a useful tool when discussing the rhetorical situation and concepts such as exigence, audience, and invention. As these terms are viewed in the social and historical contexts and discourses in which they were produced, the evolution of these terms and the lens through which their meanings are derived will shed more light onto the genre of blogging and its ability to remain stable in such a fluid environment.



Rhetorical situation, Invention process, Audience, Muslim blogs, Exigence