Journal of Foreign Languages ›› 2021, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (1): 2-20.

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Textual Anticipation and the Putative Reader in Persuasive Discourse

Peter R. R. White   

  1. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • Received:2020-04-15 Online:2021-01-20 Published:2021-02-03

Abstract: The notion that ‘monologic’ written texts construe for themselves a putative addressee (variously termed the ‘ideal’, ‘imagined’, ‘virtual’, ‘intended’, ‘model’ or ‘mock’ reader) has received a great deal of scholarly attention, initially by scholars of literary fiction and subsequently by discourse analysts more generally.This paper is concerned with putative-reader positioning in persuasive texts and with how, through observing the relationships of alignment and dis-alignment which the author enters into with this putative reader, it is possible to better understand the rhetorical workings of these texts.More specifically, it demonstrates how, through an analysis of which beliefs, expectations and attitudes the author projects onto this putative addressee it is possible to better understand how such a text may be persuasive, to more systematically describe the ‘compliant readings’ associated with a text and to more thoroughly deal with ‘ideological’ workings of persuasive texts as they naturalize particular value systems and world views.In outlining and demonstrating an approach to analyses of putative-addressee positioning, the paper draws on prior work in literary criticism scholarship and in university composition studies.Its primary focus, however, is on developing prior work on the putative addressee in the appraisal-framework literature, in particular work which has attended to the role of the resources of dialogistic positioning (ENGAGEMENT) in ‘writing the reader into the text’.

Key words: persona, persuasion, dialogism, readership

CLC Number: 

  • H030
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