JMU Issue Audience and Genre Analysis Questions
Issue, Audience, and Genre Analysis InstructionsDue Sunday 4/10 by 11:59PM
This assignment is worth 15% of your final grade.
Just like the Annotated Bibliography, this assignment prepares you for writing your
final Advocacy Letter. Use the sources from your Annotated Bibliography for this
assignment, as well as any other sources you may have acquired since then. In this
assignment, you will answer a series of questions rather than write a unified essay. Cite
all information that does not originate with you.
The questions on the worksheet below (starting on page 3) ask you to do the following:
● Describe an appropriately narrowed, current (within the last 12-18 months), and
unresolved issue relevant to your field of study. Explain what caused this
controversial issue to arise and why people disagree about how it should be
● Identify an audience for the issue you chose who disagrees, in part or in total,
and analyze the audience’s position. The audience must have decision-making
authority or considerable influence over the outcome of the issue.
● Explain your position on that issue.
● Analyze that audience’s biases and potential counterarguments.
● Analyze the Advocacy Letter genre for the final letter.
1. Download this document.
2. Enter your responses to the questions directly on the worksheet below. (Note that
you are not writing a formal essay; you are answering a series of questions only.) You
should have at least one well-developed, well-cited paragraph per question. Each
response should contain at least 150 words.
● Use the sources from your Annotated Bibliography as a start; you can also
change any of those sources at any time. You must include at least six sources
for this assignment (at least four scholarly). These sources should provide
sufficient evidence to back up your argument points.
● Make sure you effectively and ethically integrate your sources and cite them
Please include a References or Works Cited page at the end of this assignment. The
chosen citation style (e.g. APA, MLA) should match the one used for your Annotated
Bibliography. Please also include in-text citations in your question responses.
(Footnotes are also permitted.)
All questions will be graded using the same rubric below. The assignment is worth 75
● Full credit: Provides an in-depth response to the question and includes detailed
reasoning and research as evidence. Includes appropriate citations for all outside
source information. Meets 150-word minimum requirement.
● Partial credit: Provides a partial or superficial response to the question with
little or no detailed reasoning and research as evidence. May or may not include
appropriate citations for all outside source information. May or may not meet
150-word minimum requirement.
● No credit: Does not answer the question or answer is irrelevant.
By the end of this process, you should be able to:
● Research and analyze an active conversation about an issue relevant to your
field of study.
● Develop a research question about that issue.
● Identify and analyze an audience who has decision-making authority over that
● Analyze that audience and discover how that audience will affect your research
● Analyze the advocacy letter genre you will use to write to that audience to learn
how it will shape your final argument.
● Find, evaluate, integrate, and cite highly credible sources.
This adapted assignment, developed by the George Mason Composition Program, is
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC
Name of your discipline:
Your refined and narrowed research question:
1. THE ISSUE: Describe the appropriately narrowed, current, and unresolved issue
relevant to your field of study. Explain what caused this controversial issue to arise and
why people disagree about how it should be resolved. Make sure it is either about to
happen or is just getting underway, which means it has arisen as a controversy within the
last 12-18 months. Be specific. Do not choose overly broad issues that have been
debated for a long time, such as “legalizing marijuana.” Think much more narrowly,
such as a specific piece of legislation at the federal or state level that has not yet been
voted upon (e.g., how a specific state considering legalizing marijuana plans to
negotiate the federal prohibition against its use).
2. THE AUDIENCE: Identify and describe a primary audience who has direct influence
over the issue you researched and analyzed in your annotated bibliography. Explain the
audience’s vested interest (decision-making authority) in the issue and describe any
current events or trends that may be currently affecting your audience’s interests.
3. AUDIENCE’S POSITION (the audience’s argument): What position does the
audience have on the issue you chose? Note that audiences do not always spell out
their positions. You will need to conduct research in newspapers, trade publications,
and journals to collect the necessary information about your audience’s position.
4. AUDIENCE BIAS: What values and beliefs does your audience have that would
create biases against your position? Remember that everyone involved in a controversy
will have biases, so having them is not a sign of weakness. It just means you would need
to consider those biases when writing to the audience.
5. YOUR POSITION ON THE ISSUE: Identify and explain your stance on this issue and
why you disagree with the audience. The first sentence of your response will be your
thesis or the answer to your research question that you will support with evidence.
Provide reasons for your position. Use the evidence to defend your position.
6. CONCESSION and COUNTERARGUMENT: Describe elements of your audience’s
position that you sympathize with (concession) so that you can acknowledge the
counterarguments to your stance. Next, refute what you can about the audience’s
position with evidence-based counterargument of your own.
7. EVIDENCE: What types of evidence would your audience expect to see in order to be
persuaded by your argument? Most audiences who hold decision-making authority over
an issue are sophisticated and knowledgeable. Think carefully about what it would take
to persuade your audience to change its stance or agree to a compromise on the issue.
8. GENRE: From what you know of it, describe the structure and format of the
advocacy letter. How does that structure and format shape what you as an author can
say and how you might say it? Pay attention to structure, language, and reference (SLR)
Don’t forget to include a Works Cited or References page below. Footnotes are also