Discussion: define 9/11 | English 391 | University of Maryland College Park

Learning to adapt information to various audiences lies at the core of the next assignment. About any given subject, the writer may cover many different aspects of the topic; however, the skillful writer strategically selects what to say given the audience’s background, interests and desires. For this discussion, consider how you would define the concept of 9/11 to the following two different audiences:

Audience 1: Imagine that you, spending your summer in Montana doing research on invasive species, meet an eight year-old boy in the woods. You discover that he—inquisitive, articulate and bright—enjoys reading science fiction. He recently finished reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. He lives with his parents on an 86 acre farm, off-the-grid, with no internet access; his parents homeschool him. He has never ventured outside of Montana, but he loves geography and reading about various cultures. He inquires about your trip from Washington, D.C. to Montana and you tell him about the unusually long security lines at the airport. He asks why you must endure these security lines and you reply, “We blame it on 9/11.” He asks you, “What is 9/11?” How do you define the concept 9/11 for this audience?

Audience 2: Imagine that you travel to Prague for spring break. On your return flight to Washington, you strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. You learn that he has recently been released from prison in China where he spent the last 18 years imprisoned for his pro-democracy protest against the Chinese government. Cut off from all outside information, he has no idea about the terrorist attacks that happened in the fall of 2001. Prior to his arrest in July 2001, this 40 year old man was a PhD student at Oxford University in the UK studying international politics. How would you explain 9/11 to this audience?

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