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Genres and Academic Discourse

Assignment Summary

1. Freewriting: Have the students freewrite about genre for 3-5 minutes. What is genre? Where have they dealt with genre before, both within school and without?

2. Discuss genre as a group. What answers did the students come up with?

3. Come up with a general, but concise definition of genre as a class. Discuss where the notion of drama fits in with the diagram: content, structure, style and form.

4. Genres of different artistic forms: painting, music, writing. Are political speeches a genre? Train schedules?

Types: realism, impressionism, landscape painting, folk art, baroque, classical, postmodern, surrealism, drama....

Discuss different Academic genres: History, Biology, Sociology, English, Music.

5. Identification of genres: pass out sheet with selections of different types of writing.

From Coe: What is the author trying to accomplish? (Purpose) With whom? (Audience) Under what circumstances and in what genre? (Occasion) What context might we infer that these passages are from? (See sample text passages)

Examples from a different language: What might be some formal cues that identify genre regardless of language?

6. Provide a more formal definition of genre for the class.

7. Group activity: Using the questions from Richard M. Coe's essay "Teaching Genre as a Process," have students generate answers in response to their own writing.

8. Come back to the large group to discuss what was learned in the small groups. Now that we have answered the "What?"and, in part, the "How?" of genre, what about the "Why?"

9. Discuss genre as a process. Coe writes, "Genres are socially real and that to participate effectively in a discourse community one usually must adapt to (or around) readers' generic expectations. They should learn to notice genres, to make sense of genres, even to renovate genres."

Did you find that you were more able to identify genre in your own work now and in the past?

10. Process notes: What did you learn about genre that you didn't already know? How can you carry this into your understanding of writing to other classes?

1. What purposes does this genre serve? How do its particular generic structures serve those purposes?

2. How is it adapted to its particular readers? Who is the audience?

3. How is it appropriate to its context of situation? Under what circumstances?

Sample Text Passages

Instructor's Comments

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genre textual analysis
course WRT 101 and up
activity type freewriting, class discussion, small group discussion
skills definition, audience awareness, genre distinction, classification, analysis
duration 1 class
materials/readings
see handouts
handouts: sample text passages (html, Word file)
contributor: Michael Pittman