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Genre Critique (cont'd)

Page history last edited by Todd Breijak 8 years, 10 months ago

Super Fun Time Genre Elaboration Period





A whole lotta genre comin' at cha!



Remember, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when you worked through Project 1?


The aim of that project was to help you become aware of the form and construction of a genre. In order to achieve this you were asked to follow three steps:


(1) modeling, in which you were exposed to texts that exemplify the main features of the genre (i.e. you looked at a lot of memes);


(2) joint negotiation, in which the you, with my nurturing guidance, work through the formal features of a subgenre in order to create an example of the genre; and


(3) independent construction, in which you draft your own version of a text (or image) in a given genre.


Our gameplan today is to elaborate upon your understanding of genre in order to examine how genre functions within a discourse community, and to consider how genres, in turn, reflect the structures of the communities they inhabit.


Five main aspects of the concept of genre.


(1) Dynamism: Genres are not fixed structures, but change over time to respond to their users’ communicative needs.


(2) Situatedness: The genres we use depend on the actions we need to accomplish with them. The repertoire of genres used by a community is related to the community’s activities.


(3) Form and content: Knowing a genre means not only being aware of its form and textual features but also being aware of when the genre can be used, in which situation, and for which purpose.


(4) Duality of structure: Genres are a response to the rhetorical situations that arise in interactions between the members of a community. In this way, they not only to reflect and reinforce social structures but also to construct these structures.


(5) Community ownership: The genres used by a discourse community reflect its norms, epistemology, ideology, and social ontology. Discourse communities use genres with specific features or personalized forms of communication. This means that insiders (members of the community) have an effective form of communication, and outsiders find it difficult to understand the actions performed with the genre.




Identify five characteristics of the genre you have been assigned, and indicate the strengths of these characteristics


Texts are seen not as independent objects but as objects that are determined by the activities that they serve. Genres can be studied as objects that mediate socially organized activities. They are tools to carry out community activities and to negotiate meaning within the community.


But what does this mean???

            How do certain genre conventions serve the expectations of a discourse community? Put another way, how can we understand the expectations of a discourse community based upon the conventions we observe at work within a genre?



Relationship between Genre Form and Community Form


* Genres not only reflect and feel the effects of social structures; they also affect and shape the social structure of the community or organization that uses them.

  • Example: Business plans: These plans establish the parameters of the company and hope to persuade key individuals to take actions that make the company a reality.


* A number of studies have analyzed the structure of communities and its effect on the genres they use. A community may consist of different subgroups that have their own distinctive communicative practices.



How do the formal features of the genre you are working with reflect the structure of the communities that they serve? 


* To write appropriate texts within a discourse community, it is necessary to be aware of the needs of the audience and to understand the context in which the genre is produced (i.e. the actions that are being performed through the texts, in response to recurring socio-cultural contexts).




            To master the genres used by a community, one must become acculturated to the community and understand the community’s goals and values. For example, when someone enters the workplace they have to face communicative situations and challenges that were not considered in school and they have to learn how to communicate in new genres.



Project Endgame:

            Your project asks you to discuss, at length, the strengths of a particular genre. Considering that we have learned that genre is not an isolated “kind” of text, but an evolving set of characteristics and norms that respond to the needs of a discourse community, knowing that genre conventions serve the communication goals of a community will help you understand the why of genre conventions. There is a reason why certain discourse communities employ certain genres in order to achieve intercommunication, information exchange, and feedback. Similarly, the formal characteristics of a given genre will contribute the reinforcement of certain expectations of communication within a particular subgroup.

     While two groups such as Political reformers and punks, for example, may share the goal of inciting social reform, the manner by which they communicate (pamphlets and reports on the one hand, self-consciously shoddily produced music on the other) illustrates how genre conventions influence the expectations of communication within a discourse community while also reinforcing established conventions of communication.

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