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What is Exposition Writing

Exposition can be either oral or written. It is used to explain, interpret, inform, or describe. An expository writer must assume that the audience has no prior knowledge regarding the topic being discussed. So the topic must be written in a clear manner explaining how things work (you can however, leave out common knowledge–you probably are not writing for first graders). Exposition reaches beyond the obvious. Its underlying purpose in explaining, interpreting, informing, or describing is to reveal aspects of substance. Exposition does not simply provide a definition of the term “fake news”; it explores the inherent danger in using a terms that grossly oversimplifies the true nature of news. In an essay one would explore how the term “fake news” should but often does not refer to unreliable news sources, rumor mills, and blogs or social media sites that purposely spread unsourced stories to fulfill a political or personal agenda. One might also write that “fake news” is a term applied to news that is sourced but that someone simply choices to openly discredit.

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As most academic terms, exposition can acquire various definitions depending on the context in which a writer is using the word. The HarperCollins Collins English Dictionary defines exposition in seven different disciplinary contexts.

  1. Within the Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing discipline exposition is defined as: a systematic, usually written statement about, commentary on, or explanation of a specific subject
  2. The act of expounding of setting forth information or a viewpoint
  3. (Business / Commerce) of a large public exhibition, especially of industrial products or arts and crafts
  4. The act of exposing or the state of being exposed
  5. (Performing Arts / Theatre) the part of a play, novel, etc., in which the theme and main characters are introduced.
  6. (Music / Classical Music) Music the first statement of the subjects or themes of a movement in sonata form or a fugue
  7. (Christianity / Roman Catholic Church) RC Church the exhibiting of the consecrated Eucharistic Host or a relic for public veneration (Harper Collins Dictionary)

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Expression and Inquiry by Chris Manning, Sally Pierce, and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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