"The Publicity of Colonnades"
As a sophomore, I enrolled in a PWR class called Understanding Rhetoric. The final project for the course was a mock consulting project: each student had to identify a campus organization that could improve in a specific area (e.g., marketing) and create a document that explained how employing rhetorical concepts could help achieve that improvement. I picked Colonnades, the literary and art journal of the university, and focused on ways the publication could gain more recognition within the student body.
My biggest concern while writing the document was establishing my authority as the writer and as a consultant for Colonnades. I knew I needed to make it clear that I understood both Colonnades as an organization and rhetoric as a discipline in order for the document to carry any weight. Without immediately establishing my ethos, staff members of the literary and art journal would (hypothetically) question my ability to function as a knowledgeable speaker/writer and disregard my analysis and suggestions, as a result.
With that in mind, I included a letter of introduction as the first page of content in the final document, directly after the title page. In the letter, I establish my background as an English and art history double major and express my admiration for the publication as a fan of both literature and art—both of which are pieces of information that directly connect me to the dual aspects of the Colonnades literary and art journal. The letter further goes on to demonstrate my knowledge of rhetorical concepts by briefly explaining rhetoric’s applicability to Colonnades and providing a teaser to how the concepts of the rhetorical triangle could benefit the organization. In this way, I immediately established my authorial position of authority and demonstrated how my analysis could prove useful to Colonnades.
Throughout the rest of the document, I attempted to use an organizational scheme and writing tone that would both appeal to the audience of Colonnades staff members and create a user-centered document that could easily be employed as a reference for that audience. I knew that staff members are generally upperclassmen and already have an established academic background; as a result, I used a conversational tone but avoided “dumbing down” the information so as not to alienate my audience. I chose the quotes from rhetors and the order of information with the knowledge that the document needed to be specifically accessible and engaging for the intended end users.
Looking back on this document, what strikes me is how little visual appeal it has, even though it is a document intended to appeal to and aid a journal at least partially dedicated to the visual arts. My original intention with the document had been to illustrate it in some way, but I was never able to figure out how to incorporate illustrations that were rhetorical analysis-appropriate and also within my limited artistic skill level. In the end, I also ran out of time to develop ideas that would have made the document more visually interesting. The large, stylized quotes were meant to replace the intended illustrations, but I have never been quite satisfied with that result. I do think the document as a whole looks professional and appeals to members of Colonnades effectively, but I think it could still certainly benefit from more visuals, particularly ones that are not data-based diagrams or graphs.