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We are often bullied into doing things against our will, this could also be said of expository texts which aim to inform, instruct and explain but importantly to persuade. They use shock value to force us to look at our values, attitudes and ideologies. When devices such as statistics, personal touch, persona, language and case studies are used the responses from the reader will have been deliberated by the author, Who uses these features to illicit the desired response. Looking at articles such as Real Gorgeous, The other country crisis and Columbine it is obvious to see the many features and devices that have been carefully positioned to encourage responses in the reader.
Almost all statistics do not consider the varying factors contributing to the study. When reading a text containing statistics the reader feels they are attaining the hard facts, this however could not be further from the truth as Rod Quin points out with the example of the text Manhood written by Steve Biddulph. Biddulp states “One in seven boys will experience sexual assault by an adult or older child before the age of eighteen.” Reading this the audience will feel outraged or sympathetic towards men, Quin however asks us to consider the “rest of the “facts” that “one in a hundred girls will experience sexual assault by an adult or older child before they reach eighteen” that’s five times the rate of men. While the statistics are convincing it is also the source they come from that can encourage a response from reader. They will feel the “fact” is more credible if it comes from a well known source. The Other Country Crisis by Stephen Scourfeild states that “According to the Bureau of statistics, Australia has once of the highest rates of youth suicide” Once again the reader is not seeing all of the facts, yet the source from which the statistic come from is credible and well known. With this in mind the readers response will still be swayed because we are taught to trust authority. The author has triumphed in encouraging the desired response.
It is always more pleasant and enjoyable to read something that appears to be personal or sympathetic. Real Gorgeous by Kaz Cooke is a perfect example of manipulative language. The text encourages the reader to feel comfortable with themselves that they are fine “the way they are” .
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If other people are having the same experiences or problems surely ours are credible as well? Case studies and quotes encourage the reader the empathise more with the text and identify the issues in the text with their own, which inturn makes the reader feel more positively about the text. “ …my boyfriend was attracted to me because of my size. He loves huge buttocks and breasts and the confident way in which I walk…I hope you’re as happy as I am.” (from Real Gorgeous). Quotes like these play on the readers emotional side . Humiliation and Revenge by Peter Wilkinson tells the story of the two teenage boys who planned and carried out the Columbine High School shootings. The article digs deeply into the lives of the two boys painting them as two average American kids sick of the taunts and the feelings of being outcasted by peers. This scares the readers, it leads them to question the people they know, to question the way they treat each other and to question today’s society as a whole. Robert is also used as a case study in The Other Country Crisis which tells the story of a gay teen growing up in the country. Robert is painted as someone that could easily have been the readers brother, son or best friend.
As mentioned before the source of a statistic can contribute to it’s credibility. The source could be part of an authority for example and organization text or expert on a certain matter. When a reader does not know a lot about an issue or event they will believe someone who has more confidence in the matter or is said to be esteemed in their knowledge of the issue. For example in The Other Country Crisis the views of Graham Brown, health promotion officer for the here for life youth sexuality project are used constantly through the second half of the article. “if I didn’t know that Robert was talking about the 1960’s and 70’s I’d assume that it was happening two days ago”. A quote like this will make the reader acknowledge that the problem is still occurring in today’s society “…Brown’s own study with gays and lesbians in WA just published, reveals reasons for suicide attempts…” the mentioning of Brown’s study will make the reader feel that Brown’s views must be correct as he knows enough about the matter to publish study’s on it. This will further convince the reader that the story is credible and evoke a trusting response.
The manner in which a person, object, issue or event is represented can change greatly depending on who is writing the text. The representation of something can encourage or discourage the way the reader will think. At Sea with the America’s Cup written by (American) P.J.O’Rourke represents Australia in a negative way. “nobody else in Western Australia owns a tuxedo either…….we spent the evening itching and squirming and scratching ourselves like apes.” A statement like this portrays Australia as a place with no class or style. This style of representation could illicit a wide variety responses from the reader: disgust, agreement and even humour. Representation can help to form stereotypes. A reader who didn’t know a lot about Australian culture or people might, after reading this passage decide that they stereotype of Australian people is accurate. Hence their response has been formed due to negative representation. Representation can also be used to positively re enforce ideas. Down Under by yet again another American Bill Bryson. Puts forward the idea that Australian’s are laid back, and that this is a positive thing “it (Australia) is stable and peaceful and good.” Bryson is fond of Australia “clearly this is a place to get to know.” Bryson’s representation can be shown in the way he describes the manner in which Australians talk “… “oh, it’s fun you’ll love it,” she said breezily. ….it’s heaps of fun, isn’t it heaps of fun Glenn?” He is presenting Australians and encouraging, breezy and fun.
Two entirely different representations of the same place are capable of promoting all sorts of responses from the reader.
An important feature to note is Context. Novel Reading (publish in 1902) and written by J.H. Kellog M.D is an article covering the dangers facing teenage girls when they read novels, especially the erotic or “..vulgar” kind. “we have felt our cheeks burn more than once when we have seen young school-girls intently poring over the vulgar poems of Chauncer or the amorous ditties or burns…” Mr Kellog suggests that reading these types of literature could result in “the greatest cause of uterine disease in young women.” He proves his seriousness when he likens the practice to that of drug use “the novel devotee is as much a slave as the opium-eater or the inebriate.” For a parent in 1902 this document would be regarded with his esteem and caution. After all Mr Kellog was a member of the British association for the advancement of science. Readers of this article would have banned their teenage daughters from reading or anything of the sort. In 2005 many scientific breakthroughs have been made that would discredit Mr. Kellog’s theory. With this knowledge in mind a response of ridicule or astonishment may be called to mind. It is the readers context – not a device used by the writer that will play part in the responses elicited.
It’s not what you say, but the manner in which it is said. The tone of a text is one of the underlying features that play apart in promoting certain reactions in the reader. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolfe has a well educated serious tone to it. The arguments are all supported by facts and five syllable words. “We are in the midst of a violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women’s advancement: the beauty myth”. If text’s could embody a human career this one would be a fast talking lawyer. The confident and persuasive tone of The Beauty Myth makes it hard for the reader not to join the masses and decide that there is a problem. Not only is the tone of this text convincing and influential it is also dark; pointing out that there is a real problem with women and society “but in spite of shame, guilt, and denial, more and more women are wondering if it isn’t that they are entirely neurotic and alone but rather that something important is indeed at stake…” Faced with a sombre statement like this there can only be a small variation in the emotions and responses coming from the reader. It is obvious that the manner in which the words have been placed has played a role in the reader’s response.
In conclusion we can see that the reader is no longer the free thinking reader they once were, they have become someone who’s emotional responses have already been designated to them. Through clever use of literary features and rhetorical devices the author is able to shape the way they want the reader to respond to their text. No one person will respond exactly the same to the other, their context, values and attitudes and ideologies have already made up half their mind for them.