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Kayla Cason – “The Rhetoric Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer

Posted by Kayla Cason on

In “The Rhetorical Situation,” Lloyd F. Bitzer illustrates the depth of a rhetorical situation and its relation to rhetorical discourse.  A rhetorical situation can be defined as an event that causes an author to respond and seek change. There are three main components of a rhetorical situation.  The first is exigence. According to Bitzer, “Any exigence is an imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be” (Bitzer 6).  In simpler terms, exigence is the issue the author is addressing and it must have the ability to develop positive change. The second is the author’s audience. The audience consists only of people who are capable of making change and of people who are influenced by discourse. The final component is the constraints.  The constraints of a rhetorical situation can be categorized into two groups: those that are originated or managed by the rhetor and their method, and those that are operative. They consist of people, events, objects, and relations; all with the power to restrict any decision or action needed to make change. The sources of these constraints include beliefs, attitudes, documents, facts, images, interests, motives, and “the like” (Bitzer 8).

I was most intrigued by the notion of the first general characteristic of a rhetorical situation.  On page 9, Bitzer states “Rhetorical discourse is called into existence by the situation; the situation which the rhetor perceives amounts to an invitation to create and present discourse.”  Through this, he conveys the idea that change cannot come about unless there is an issue present. I found this interesting because not only does this concept apply to rhetorical situations, but to everyday life as well.  If change is necessary, then, at its root is an urgent issue. Whether it be in situations as mere as a broken watch or as pressing as a school shooting, it is necessary for change to come through the words of a “rhetor.” This change can impact the lives of, not only the victims, but of the witnesses as well.  


Jamirka De León – Response to “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer

Posted by Jamirka De León on

          Before I began reading “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer I thought a rhetorical situation was a situation that has not occurred in reality but that society was talking about it or giving a response based on something that only existed within their imagination.  However, after reading the passage I learned that a rhetorical situation is a discourse that inspires change when Bitzer states, “ . . . it functions to produce action or change in the world; it performs some task.” In a rhetorical situation the discourse inspires change surrounding the topic of discussion.  For example, a discourse on basic human rights would cause the public to persuade lobbyist to speak on the enforcement and further respect of people’s rights. He goes on to explain that “ . . . it is the situation which calls the discourse into existence” (Bitzer 2). In other words, a situation is what inspires discourse that will then inspire change and action.  A discourse can not inspire a situation and then inspire change, the situation already needs to be in place for a discourse to be written. Furthermore, I found it interesting when he mentioned that a rhetoric is pragmatic and always persuasive. On page three Bitzer mentions that, “ . . . a work of rhetoric is pragmatic; it comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself . . .”  A rhetorical situation comes into existence as a way to deal with things sensibly. It is created not only for the sake of writing great discourse but in order to have some kind of impact.  He also mentioned that a rhetoric is always persuasive. I was confused at first as to why a rhetoric would be persuasive but as I continued to read it became more clear. The exigence inspires the utterance based on a issue or problem which will in a sense be used as a means to persuade the public to take action and to speak out in relation to the context of that exigence.  In a rhetorical situation the written piece will lead to a response in which the public will speak out and take action therefore making it persuasive. In whole I found the article repetitive but oddly enough the repetition of the concepts of the essay was what finally made me comprehend a rhetorical situation and how a rhetoric comes into existence.


Michelle Ortiz Response to “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd Bitzer

Posted by Michelle Ortiz on

In “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer, he discusses what a rhetorical situation is and the elements of a rhetorical situation. He states that a rhetorical situation “comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself; it functions ultimately to produce action or change in the world; it performs some task”(Bitzer 3-4). This shows how a rhetorical situation is a situation that can changed depending on the audience’s response to the situation. Bitzer mentions the three key elements of a rhetorical situation which are exigence, audience, and constraints. Bitzer states that “exigence is an imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be”(Bitzer 6). Exigence is only rhetorical “if it is capable of positive modification” (Bitzer 7). Bitzer states that the audience is very important because when influenced they are the ones that motivate the change produced by the rhetorical situation. Additionally, a rhetorical situation always includes constraints which is “made up of persons, events, objects, and relations which are parts of the situation because they have the power to constrain decision and action needed to modify the exigence” (Bitzer 8). These constraints may include the audience’s beliefs and traditions.

One idea that really interested me was when Bitzer stated “In our real world, however, rhetorical exigences abound; the world really invites change – change conceived and effected by human agents who quite properly address mediating audience” (Bitzer 13). This is an idea that I completely agree with because indeed, the world does invite and motivate change. Our real world is not perfect at all and there is always positive change or modification that must be done. This is why our audience is very important in a rhetorical situation. Often, one person cannot cause a big change on their own which is where an audience that can make a change or motivate change is very important. Situations that include a specific issue such as police brutality, motivate a specific audience to make a positive modification to abolish or minimize this problem. Overall, this statement in “The Rhetorical Situation” really caught my eye because of the fact that it makes me realize how important positive modification is and how the world is not perfect at all and always needs some sort of change.

When Bitzer claimed “Each reader probably can recall a specific time and place when there was an opportunity to speak on some urgent matter, and after the opportunity was gone he created a private thought the speech he should have uttered earlier in the situation” (Bitzer 2), I related to this a lot. This usually happens to me when the teacher creates a discussion about a specific issue occurring in today’s society. I always share how I feel about the issue however, when the discussion is over I always find myself having more opinions, more facts; overall, having more to say about the specific issue. I always regret not mentioning something during the discussion and I am sure I am not the only one.

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