Who We Are:

We are a class made up of students at the University of Kansas taking English 203: Public Writing. The Majors that make up our class range from Journalism to Business, Engineering to Sports Management, and even Anthropology all the way to Psychology. Our main focuses in this class include practice in composing a variety of public genres and adjusting writing to multiple audiences and even purposes. Not only that, but at the same time we work collaboratively with each other to analyze and produce public texts to develop an understanding of the real differences between “school writing” and “public writing”. 

What is Public Writing?

Public writing is learning how to take an argument, idea or public topic and join an ongoing conversation. In public writing there are three main contributing traits: audience, purpose and context. All three of these connect for a successful composition. After defining the purpose, the writer should consider the targeted audience and the appropriate context. Context is vital to expressing one’s ideas; considerations of context will help convey the author's thoughts to the intended audience.

Writing to Public Audiences:

In writing for public audiences, the goal is most often attempting to gain the allegiance of readers while not alienating or offending those that oppose. When we write for public audiences, we write for a group of people who are involved in an ongoing public discussion about an issue of public concern; or we take on the task of trying to create an audience whose interests and values may lead them to identify with an issue. When writing for a public audience, it is vital to contemplate different public communities that might be related to the issue and consider their inherent values or motives. 

Utilizing Rhetorical Appeals in Public Writing:

Rhetorical appeals are imperative for a piece of public writing to be effective. One can think of these appeals like an ice cream sundae. Ethos, or credibility, is like the bowl; it is the foundation that holds the ice cream, or content. Logos, or the main substance or evidence of an argument, can be found within the ice cream.  This also intersects with pathos since, depending on a person’s preference, he or she will prefer certain flavors, just like readers react to different emotional stimuli. Pathos is like the whipped cream, adding extra appeal to the content's creamy goodness.

Entering into Public Conversations:

In order to really connect to a public issue, you need to formulate your own ideas instead of just rehashing what other people have said before. Being an "explorer" is one of the ways to do that. Make up something new, and leave the possibility open that there are more ways to look at a certain issue, instead of being a dogmatist and claiming that your position is the only one. You should listen, not lecture. Don't be a "tourist" either. Don't do the same thing that everyone else is doing. You HAVE to be willing to go an extra step, and go beyond the accepted boundaries of a topic without fear. Perhaps the most important thing to do is put a part of yourself into the paper. You don't want to seem like a "cookie cutter" writer; add your own character into your writing. (with credit to Charney et al Having Your Say: Reading and Writing Public Arguments)