Audience, Role and Purpose Letter Portfolio
For this assignment you will write a series of letters to address specific audiences and situations. You will take the specific details provided about who your audience is, what your purpose is in writing and what your role is as the writer for each letter you write. All of these letters will put forward an argument to convince your reader, and the success of your arguments will depend on how skillfully you adapt your writing to the audience, situation and what you hope to achieve. As we will discuss in class, writing for different audiences requires a different tone and level of formality, different use of language and examples and using rhetorical appeals differently to influence the reader you are hoping to convince. Through these letters, you will demonstrate an understanding of how to adapt your writing to different audiences and situations. These letters are also based on real-life personal and professional situations that you will very likely encounter in your life during and after college. Part of the purpose of these letters is to show you clearly know how the material we are covering in the course applies to your personal and professional life.
Depending on the type of letter, the length and detail of your letter will vary slightly, but generally they will not exceed two pages in length, single-spaced. You should follow the Purdue Owl website organization for a business letter here:
These letters will be graded on how effectively you tailor your writing to fit the specific audience and situation, the general organization of your letter and the quality of the arguments you put forward. This portfolio will be worth ten percent of your course grade.
Letter to a friend arguing that they should go back to college
Audience: a personal friend you have known for years. This person began college when you did, but they didn’t take it seriously, partied more than went to class, and ended up dropping out at the end of their first year. For the last two years, they have been working through a series of part time jobs. Because of their lack of a college degree, they have had trouble finding jobs that pay well or are full time positions.
Role: As you have been nearing graduation, you have been thinking more and more about this friend and feel strongly they should give college another try. You are a concerned, old friend.
Purpose: To persuade your friend to return to college so they can have a better life and future.
Letter to a business arguing that they need to refund money for a defective product
Audience: A professional, online business from which you purchased an expensive product (TV, gaming system, or home computer). When the product arrived at your home, it did not work properly, and you immediately contacted them to ask for a refund. They wrote you back and said that they will not take the product back or refund your money, and they suggest that you damaged it yourself while using it. Their tone is hostile and firm in their position.
Role: Your role is customer, but you want to project a professional, serious tone throughout.
Purpose: Your purpose is to convince the company to refund your money for the product you purchased and to convince them that it is in their best interest professionally to do so.
Letter to the editor arguing for a change in campus policy
Audience: Your audience is the university campus community. It will include the students and faculty who may be influenced by the policy, but also the administration who you wish to persuade to change their policy. While people outside the university community might read your letter, your primary audience will be people on campus who read the university newspaper.
Role: A college student, junior level or above, with at least three years experience with campus life and academic situations.
Purpose: To persuade the university to change a long-standing university policy or system to improve conditions for students (though it may improve things for faculty or support staff as well). You will be allowed to choose what campus policy you will discuss, so your purpose will vary somewhat depending on which policy you wish to change.
Letter to your city government identifying a dangerous traffic situation and arguing for something to be done to fix it
Audience: The city government of Terre Haute, Indiana (You may also use your own hometown instead of Terre Haute, but you will need to identify it in your letter). You may address it to the most relevant city official or department if you wish.
Role: Your role is that of a concerned member of the community seeking to remove a safety hazzard or danger you have observed. You should have strong personal knowledge and experience with the location you are discussing and the problem you feel needs to be fixed. While I have specified a traffic problem, you might choose another type of problem that you feel the city needs to address, but it must obviously be something that the city government has control over.
Purpose: To persuade the city government to take direct, immediate action to address a dangerous safety issue you have observed. This will likely require the expenditure of money and use of city resources, so you must be very convincing that THIS problem is more serious than other problems and complaints that the city is dealing with or intending to deal with at the present time.
In some of these situations, specific details will need to be created by you to give your letter the proper level of detail and make a convincing case. You have the freedom to “invent” specific details such as names, events, and specific details you need to make your case, but don’t go overboard and make it outlandish or silly. These letters should be grounded in reality and situations that people deal with on a daily basis.
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