GENRE STUDIES BBI5225GENRE STUDIES BBI5225
LECTURE WEEK 1LECTURE WEEK 1
DR AFIDA MOHAMAD ALIDR AFIDA MOHAMAD ALI
LOCATING GENRE STUDIES
Introduction
• What is a “genre”?
Introduction (cont’d…)
• Work in genre studies influenced by research and scholarship in a wide range of
disciplines
• rhe...
Introduction (cont’d…)
Defining Genre:
• word genre comes from French (originally Latin genus) word for 'kind' or 'class‘
...
• Genre – a distinctive category of discourse of any type, spoken or written,
with or without literary aspirations.
Introduction (cont’d…)
• Genre variously defined in literature: the broadest division is between
poetry, prose and drama, ...
Introduction (cont’d…)
• Television genres include 'game shows' ‘soap opera’, ‘talk shows’ and
'sitcoms‘
• Names for count...
Introduction (cont’d…)
• Carolyn Miller (1984) suggests that 'the number of genres in
any society depends on the complexit...
Introduction (cont’d…)
• Considerable theoretical disagreement about the definition of
specific genres
• 'A genre is ultim...
Introduction (cont’d…)
Some suggestion for classifying/grouping genres (Bordwell 1989: 148):
• period or country (American...
Introduction (cont’d…)
• Scholars, practitioners and the general public use their own
genre labels (de facto genres)
• Def...
• Theoretically attractive to attempt to define particular genres in terms of
necessary and sufficient textual properties ...
• Genre as a staged, goal-oriented purposeful activity in which
speakers engage as members of our culture.
• Social becaus...
How do we assign a text to a genre category?
1. Author,
2. audience,
3. purpose,
4. situation,
5. physical form,
6. pre-se...
• Genre identification is complex
• There are no defining features, with constraints on allowable contibutions in content,...
• Martin (1985) – “Genres are how things are done, when language is used
to accomplish them”.
• Importance is place on the...
Concept of genre (ESP)
• “… a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set
of communicative purposes...
Example of a genre
and its moves
Research Article Abstract (adapted from Bhatia, 1993)
• 1. WRITER INTRODUCES PURPOSE OF S...
Genre Analysis
GA - study of situated linguistic behaviour in institutionalized academic or professional
settings.
Major t...
Critical view of genre
Genres are variable both across disciplinary practices as well as within a given discipline:
• “…ge...
Tactical freedom in genre construction
• Expert members have the “‘tactical freedom’ to exploit generic
resources to negot...
• The 'empiricist dilemma' that involves the problem of circularity (the egg
or chicken first poser):
• E.g. To take a gen...
• Problems with exceptions to any given definition of a particular genre as
there appear to be no 'rigid rules of inclusio...
• It is difficult to make clear-cut distinctions between one genre and
another:
• genres overlap
• there are 'mixed genres...
Specific genres tend to be easy to recognise intuitively (i.e. 'by feel') but difficult
(if not impossible) to define:
• P...
Texts often exhibit the conventions of more than one genre:
• “the same text can belong to different genres in different c...
• Contemporary theorists tend to describe genres in terms of
family resemblances among texts (a notion derived from the
ph...
The family resemblance approach has been criticized on the basis that 'no choice
of a text for illustrative purposes is in...
In addition to the definitional and family resemblance approach, there is another
approach to describing genres, which is ...
How we define a genre depends on (Chandler 2000):
• the researcher's purposes
• the adequacy of the definition in terms of...
Hodge & Kress (1988: 7): 'genres only exist in so far as a social
group declares and enforces the rules that constitute th...
Swales also alludes to people having 'repertoires of genres'
(Swales 1990: 58)
• but there is little empirical research to...
• Contemporary theory emphasizes that both genre forms and functions
are dynamic.
• Genre is not simply given, but in a co...
Abercrombie suggests that 'the boundaries between genres are shifting
and becoming more permeable' (1996: 45):
• modern te...
One may acknowledge the dynamic fluidity of genres
• As the generic corpus ceaselessly expands, genres (and the
relationsh...
Todorov argued that 'a new genre is always the transformation
of one or several old genres' (cited in Swales 1990, 36):
• ...
Todorov’s perspective tends to highlight:
• role of authorial experimentation in changing genres and their
conventions
• s...
The interaction between genres and media:
• contributes to changing genres
• some genres are more powerful than others - d...
• Idealist theoretical approaches to genre seek to categorise
textual characteristics are ahistorical as genres are “histo...
Some Marxist commentators see genre as an instrument of
social control which reproduces the dominant ideology:
• genre 'po...
Generic purposes as a powerful ideological dimension of genres:
• Carolyn Miller (1984): “a rhetorically sound definition ...
Other redefinitions of genre focus more broadly on the relationship
between the makers and audiences of texts (a rhetorica...
• A basic model underlying contemporary media theory is a
triangular relationship between the text, its producers and its
...
• Within genre, texts embody authorial attempts to position
readers using particular modes of address.
Every genre positions those who participate in a text of that kind (Kress
1988, 107):
• as interviewer or interviewee, as ...
• written text provides a 'reading position' for readers, a position
constructed by the writer for the 'ideal reader' of t...
• Gunther Kress (1988, 183) defines a genre as “a kind of text
that derives its form from the structure of a (frequently
r...
Contemporary theorists tend to emphasize the importance of the semiotic
notion of intertextuality:
• of seeing individual ...
• analogies with schema theory in psychology - we have mental 'scripts'
which help us to interpret familiar events in ever...
Discourse Community
Generally accepted defining characteristics of a discourse community:
• Common goals
• Participatory m...
Issues of community
• Discourse communities (Swales, 1990) vs. communities of
practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) – question of...
Community Issues (cont’d…)
• Communities of practice’ – emphasis on “practice and values
that hold the communities togethe...
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Genre studies intro

  1. 1. GENRE STUDIES BBI5225GENRE STUDIES BBI5225 LECTURE WEEK 1LECTURE WEEK 1 DR AFIDA MOHAMAD ALIDR AFIDA MOHAMAD ALI
  2. 2. LOCATING GENRE STUDIES Introduction • What is a “genre”?
  3. 3. Introduction (cont’d…) • Work in genre studies influenced by research and scholarship in a wide range of disciplines • rhetoric studies • literary theory and stylistics • social theory • philosophy of science • (critical) discourse analysis • language education (ESP) • cultural studies, etc. • multidisciplinary orientations—powerful implications of genre studies for research and teaching
  4. 4. Introduction (cont’d…) Defining Genre: • word genre comes from French (originally Latin genus) word for 'kind' or 'class‘ • term genre is commonly used in rhetoric, literary theory, media theory, and more recently in applied linguistics • generally used to refer to a distinctive type of ‘text’ (or 'text type' in applied linguistics) • Genre study is primarily nominological (naming) and typological (classifying) in function
  5. 5. • Genre – a distinctive category of discourse of any type, spoken or written, with or without literary aspirations.
  6. 6. Introduction (cont’d…) • Genre variously defined in literature: the broadest division is between poetry, prose and drama, within which there are further divisions • Contemporary media genres tend to relate more to specific forms than to the universals of tragedy and comedy e.g. promotional/advertising genres, advertorials, edutainment, etc. • Films are routinely classified (e.g. in television listings magazines) as 'thrillers', 'westerns‘, ‘drama’, ‘action’ and so on
  7. 7. Introduction (cont’d…) • Television genres include 'game shows' ‘soap opera’, ‘talk shows’ and 'sitcoms‘ • Names for countless genres in many media but also many genres (and sub-genres) for which there are no names (Fowler 1989, 216; Wales 1989, 206)
  8. 8. Introduction (cont’d…) • Carolyn Miller (1984) suggests that 'the number of genres in any society depends on the complexity and diversity of society‘ • genre as social action • genre as response to social need • No neutral, fixed, or objective criteria for classifying and organising genres into hierarchical taxonomies (except perhaps in literature)
  9. 9. Introduction (cont’d…) • Considerable theoretical disagreement about the definition of specific genres • 'A genre is ultimately an abstract conception rather than something that exists empirically in the world,‘ Jane Feuer (1992: 144) • One theorist's genre may be another's sub-genre or even super- genre • What is technique, style, mode, formula or thematic grouping to one scholar may be treated as a genre by another
  10. 10. Introduction (cont’d…) Some suggestion for classifying/grouping genres (Bordwell 1989: 148): • period or country (American films of the 1930s) • director or star or producer or writer or studio • technical process (CinemaScope films) • cycle (the 'fallen women' films) • series (the 007 movies) • style (German Expressionism) • structure (narrative) • ideology (Reaganite cinema) • venue ('drive-in movies') • purpose (home movies) • audience ('teenpix') • subject or theme (family film, paranoid-politics movies)
  11. 11. Introduction (cont’d…) • Scholars, practitioners and the general public use their own genre labels (de facto genres) • Defining genres therefore becomes problematic • Conventional definitions tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content (such as themes or settings) and form (including structure and style) which are shared by texts
  12. 12. • Theoretically attractive to attempt to define particular genres in terms of necessary and sufficient textual properties but it poses many difficulties
  13. 13. • Genre as a staged, goal-oriented purposeful activity in which speakers engage as members of our culture. • Social because we participate in genres with other people; goal- oriented because we use genres to get things done; staged because it usually takes us a few steps toreach our goals. (Martin 1984, Sydney School)
  14. 14. How do we assign a text to a genre category? 1. Author, 2. audience, 3. purpose, 4. situation, 5. physical form, 6. pre-sequence, 7. internal structure, 8. content, 9. Level of formality, 10. style, 11. Written language, 12. Requirements.
  15. 15. • Genre identification is complex • There are no defining features, with constraints on allowable contibutions in content, form , positioning. • Many shared communicative purposes • Textual features • Can be seen as prototype, • Simple, typical properties • Resources for meaning (swales 2002) • Sufficient similarity with other genres (swales 1990) • Genre repertoire • Insight into the genre’s discourse community.
  16. 16. • Martin (1985) – “Genres are how things are done, when language is used to accomplish them”. • Importance is place on the communicative purposes.
  17. 17. Concept of genre (ESP) • “… a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes. These purposes are recognised by the expert members of the parent discourse community, and thereby constitute the rationale of the genre. This rationale shapes the schematic structure of the discourse and influences and constrains choice of content and style” (Swales, 1990:58). • The purpose-related rationale gives rise to the conventions of a genre. Conventions have a formative influence but ‘‘are constantly evolving and indeed can be directly challenged’’ (Swales, 1990:53).
  18. 18. Example of a genre and its moves Research Article Abstract (adapted from Bhatia, 1993) • 1. WRITER INTRODUCES PURPOSE OF STUDY: The purpose of the study was to examine … • 2. WRITER DESCRIBES METHODOLOGY: 50 high school students in Kelantan participated in the study. They were selected from … • 3. WRITER SUMMARISES RESULTS OF STUDY: It was discovered that … • 4. WRITER PRESENTS CONCLUSIONS: High school students in Kelantan, and probably in other similar settings …
  19. 19. Genre Analysis GA - study of situated linguistic behaviour in institutionalized academic or professional settings. Major theoretical orientations include: • Typification of rhetorical action (Miller, 1984; Bazerman, 1994; Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995) • Regularities of staged, goal-oriented social processes (Martin, Christie and Rothery (1987; Martin, 1993) • Consistency of communicative purposes (Swales, 1990; Bhatia, 1993)
  20. 20. Critical view of genre Genres are variable both across disciplinary practices as well as within a given discipline: • “…genres are inherently dynamic rhetorical structures that can be manipulated according to conditions of use, and that genre knowledge is therefore best conceptualized as a form of situated cognition embedded in disciplinary cultures.” (Berkenhotter and Huckin, 1995, p. 6) • “sites of contention between stability and change” (Berkenkotter and Huckin, 1995, p. 6) • "constantly evolving and ... directly challenged" (Swales, 1990:53) thereby making the world of academic discourse dynamic and complex • A marriage of form and content – content is appropriate to a particular purpose in a particular situation at a particular point of time. (Berkenkotter and Huckin, 1995, p. 6)
  21. 21. Tactical freedom in genre construction • Expert members have the “‘tactical freedom’ to exploit generic resources to negotiate individual responses to recurring and novel rhetorical situations…[but] within rather than outside the generic boundaries… in terms of recurrence of rhetorical situations (Miller, 1984), consistency of communicative purposes (Swales, 1990) and existence and arrangement of obligatory structural elements (Hasan, 1985)” (Bhatia, 2004, p. 24)
  22. 22. • The 'empiricist dilemma' that involves the problem of circularity (the egg or chicken first poser): • E.g. To take a genre such as the 'western', analyse it, and list its principal characteristics: • we must first isolate the body of films which are 'westerns‘ • they can only be isolated on the basis of the 'principal characteristics' which can only be discovered from the films themselves after they have been isolated. (A.Tudor, cited in Gledhill 1985: 59)
  23. 23. • Problems with exceptions to any given definition of a particular genre as there appear to be no 'rigid rules of inclusion and exclusion' (Gledhill 1985: 60): 'Genres... are not discrete systems, consisting of a fixed number of listable items' (ibid.: 64).
  24. 24. • It is difficult to make clear-cut distinctions between one genre and another: • genres overlap • there are 'mixed genres' (e.g. comedy-thrillers)
  25. 25. Specific genres tend to be easy to recognise intuitively (i.e. 'by feel') but difficult (if not impossible) to define: • Particular features which are characteristic of a genre are not normally unique to it • Relative prominence of certain features, and their combinations and functions which are distinctive (Neale 1980: 22-3). • Easy to underplay the differences within a genre. • 'genres are instances of repetition and difference' (Neale 1980: 48) … 'difference is absolutely essential to the economy of genre' (ibid., 50) • issue of difference demonstrate that some genres are 'looser' - more open-ended in their conventions or more permeable in their boundaries than others
  26. 26. Texts often exhibit the conventions of more than one genre: • “the same text can belong to different genres in different countries or times” (Hartley, in O'Sullivan et al. 1994: 129) • Hybrid genres are also common (at least outside theoretical frameworks) E.g. T. Van Leeuwen suggests that the multiple purposes of journalism often lead to generically heterogeneous texts (cited in N. Fairclough 1995: 88) • Fairclough (1995: 89) suggests that mixed-genre texts are common in the mass media.
  27. 27. • Contemporary theorists tend to describe genres in terms of family resemblances among texts (a notion derived from the philosopher Wittgenstein) rather than in definitional terms (Swales 1990: 49). • An individual text within a genre rarely if ever has all of the characteristic features of the genre (Fowler 1989, 215). The family resemblance approach involves the theorist illustrating similarities between some of the texts within a genre.
  28. 28. The family resemblance approach has been criticized on the basis that 'no choice of a text for illustrative purposes is innocent' (D. Lodge, cited in Swales 1990: 50), and that such theories can make any text seem to resemble any other one (Swales 1990: 51).
  29. 29. In addition to the definitional and family resemblance approach, there is another approach to describing genres, which is based on the psycholinguistic concept of prototypicality: • Some texts are regarded as being more typical members of a genre than others. • Certain features would 'identify the extent to which an exemplar is prototypical of a particular genre' (Swales 1990: 52). • Genres can therefore be seen as 'fuzzy' categories which cannot be defined by necessary and sufficient conditions.
  30. 30. How we define a genre depends on (Chandler 2000): • the researcher's purposes • the adequacy of the definition in terms of social science must be related to the light that the exploration sheds on the phenomenon
  31. 31. Hodge & Kress (1988: 7): 'genres only exist in so far as a social group declares and enforces the rules that constitute them‘: • debatable to what extent most of us would be able to formulate explicit 'rules' for the textual genres we use routinely • much of our genre knowledge is likely to be tacit.
  32. 32. Swales also alludes to people having 'repertoires of genres' (Swales 1990: 58) • but there is little empirical research to support this view (Buckingham 1993, 137). • Buckingham argues that 'genre is not... simply "given" by the culture: rather, it is in a constant process of negotiation and change' (Buckingham 1993, 137). • Neale stresses that 'genres are not systems: they are processes of systematisation' (Neale 1980: 51; 1995: 463; Chandler's emphasis)
  33. 33. • Contemporary theory emphasizes that both genre forms and functions are dynamic. • Genre is not simply given, but in a constant process of negotiation and change.
  34. 34. Abercrombie suggests that 'the boundaries between genres are shifting and becoming more permeable' (1996: 45): • modern television seems to be engaged in 'a steady dismantling of genre' (ibid.) • attributed in part to economic pressures to pursue new audiences.
  35. 35. One may acknowledge the dynamic fluidity of genres • As the generic corpus ceaselessly expands, genres (and the relationships between them) change over time • The conventions of each genre shift, new genres and sub- genres emerge and others are 'discontinued' (though note that certain genres seem particularly long-lasting).
  36. 36. Todorov argued that 'a new genre is always the transformation of one or several old genres' (cited in Swales 1990, 36): • Each new work within a genre has the potential to influence changes within the genre or perhaps the emergence of new sub-genres (which may later blossom into fully-fledged genres).
  37. 37. Todorov’s perspective tends to highlight: • role of authorial experimentation in changing genres and their conventions • social nature of text production • role of economic and technological factors as well as changing audience preferences
  38. 38. The interaction between genres and media: • contributes to changing genres • some genres are more powerful than others - differ in status attributed to them by text-producers and their audiences • connections between textuality and power
  39. 39. • Idealist theoretical approaches to genre seek to categorise textual characteristics are ahistorical as genres are “historically relative, and therefore historically specific” (Neale 1995, 464) • genres go through cycles of popularity • Genres are context-specific and changeable.
  40. 40. Some Marxist commentators see genre as an instrument of social control which reproduces the dominant ideology: • genre 'positions' the audience in order to naturalize the ideologies which are embedded in the text (Feuer 1992, 145) • “generically defined structures may operate to construct particular ideologies and values, and to encourage reassuring and conservative interpretations of a given text” (Casey 193, 312) • But people are capable of “reading against the grain”
  41. 41. Generic purposes as a powerful ideological dimension of genres: • Carolyn Miller (1984): “a rhetorically sound definition of genre must be centered not on the substance or form of discourse but on the action it is used to accomplish” (Miller 1984) • John Swales (1990, 46): “the principal criterial feature that turns a collection of communicative events into a genre is some shared set of communicative purposes” • both in writing and reading within genres we learn purposes appropriate to the genre • particular genres develop, frame and legitimate particular concerns, questions and gratifications
  42. 42. Other redefinitions of genre focus more broadly on the relationship between the makers and audiences of texts (a rhetorical dimension): • the formal features of genres establish the relationship between producers and interpreters • mass media texts - Andrew Tolson (1996, 92) redefines genre as “a category which mediates between industry and audience” • but such approaches undermine the definition of genres as purely textual types, which excludes any reference even to intended audiences
  43. 43. • A basic model underlying contemporary media theory is a triangular relationship between the text, its producers and its interpreters • In semiotic terms, a genre can be seen as a shared code between the producers and interpreters of texts included within it
  44. 44. • Within genre, texts embody authorial attempts to position readers using particular modes of address.
  45. 45. Every genre positions those who participate in a text of that kind (Kress 1988, 107): • as interviewer or interviewee, as listener or storyteller, as a reader or a writer, as a person interested in political matters, as someone to be instructed or as someone who instructs • ‘positionings’ imply different possibilities for response and for action
  46. 46. • written text provides a 'reading position' for readers, a position constructed by the writer for the 'ideal reader' of the text • embedded within texts are assumptions about the 'ideal reader', including their attitudes towards the subject matter and often their class, age, gender and ethnicity
  47. 47. • Gunther Kress (1988, 183) defines a genre as “a kind of text that derives its form from the structure of a (frequently repeated) social occasion, with its characteristic participants and their purposes”
  48. 48. Contemporary theorists tend to emphasize the importance of the semiotic notion of intertextuality: • of seeing individual texts in relation to others • “genre is... an intertextual concept” (Wales 1989, 259) • “we need to understand genre as a property of the relations between texts” (O'Sullivan et al. 1994, 128) • Roland Barthes (1975) argued that it is in relation to other texts within a genre rather than in relation to lived experience that we make sense of certain events within a text.
  49. 49. • analogies with schema theory in psychology - we have mental 'scripts' which help us to interpret familiar events in everyday life • “a text cannot belong to no genre, it cannot be without... a genre. Every text participates in one or several genres, there is no genreless text” (Jacques Derrida 1981, 61).
  50. 50. Discourse Community Generally accepted defining characteristics of a discourse community: • Common goals • Participatory mechanisms for Information exchange • A highly specialised terminology • A high general level of expertise • Community specific genres (Swales, 1990:29)
  51. 51. Issues of community • Discourse communities (Swales, 1990) vs. communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) – question of focus • ‘Discourse community’ – focus on genres, texts and lexico- grammatical features that enable members “to maintain their goals, regulate their membership and communicate efficiently with one another” (Bhatia, 2004: 149) • ‘
  52. 52. Community Issues (cont’d…) • Communities of practice’ – emphasis on “practice and values that hold the communities together, or separate them from one another” (Bhatia, 2004: 149); “legitimate peripheral participation” as an “integral constituent” of learning through peripheral forms of participation in broader communities” (Wenger, 2004) • Combined perspective – situated activity, relational nature of knowledge and learning, negotiated nature of meaning, and engaged nature of activity

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