Sunday, January 23, 2011

Genre perspectives

Hyland, K. (2004). Genre and second language writing. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

I read the second chapter of Hyland's book for a class I'm taking. I think the chapter does a very good job explaining the differences between three different approaches to genre: Systemic functional linguistics, the New Rhetoric, and English for Specific Purposes. At the end of the chapter Hyland lists the similarities between these three approaches as follows
  • genres develop as a result of the recurrent ways people get things done in their social groups.
  • because these groups are relatively stable, the genres produced in and by institutions achieve a certain stability over time, helping to give coherence and meaning to social experience.
  • genres have specific linguistic characteristics that are not fully determined by the context or the genre but are not fully under the control of individual writers either.
  • texts are not simply produced by individuals expressing inner meanings but are influenced by communities or cultures--in terms of both products and processes--and so change in response to changing needs.
  • an understanding of genre embraces both form and content, including a sense of what is appropriate to a particular purpose and context.
  • the language of texts should always be taught together with the functions texts usually perform for writers in specific contexts.
  • genres have social origins, and so different genres carry different degrees of power and status.
  • knowledge of text characteristics and of their social power should form part of any writing curriculum. (p. 51)

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