Genre (was Re: Need help with a research project)

Subject: Genre (was Re: Need help with a research project)
From: Bryan Jonker <jonker -at- prairienet -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2000 19:17:33 -0600


Normally I stay out of these discussions, but I am perplexed by the
comment below. I've seen genre knowledge defined as "knowing the
culture" of the audience/document/knowledge-base (I'm basing this on
work by Berkenkotter and Huckin, most notably _Genre Knowledge in
Disciplinary Communication_). In other words, flowery prose is good in
literature, but not in a technical manual. Having examples of code is
good in a programmer's manual (which is in genre), but not in a basic
"How to set up your computer" (which is not in genre).

Are you saying that you don't need to know your audience to write
effectively? Or that you don't need to know at least a little bit about
the subject and other texts before you start writing? Obviously not.
Genre knowledge is knowing what is clear and concise (and expected) in a
particular text, nothing more (well, there's a lot more, but that's what
usually covered in an intro Tech. Writing class).

Again, not trying to start a fight or anything, but I think you're
misrepresenting genre theory and academia in general.

Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com> wrote:

> For example, one sub-branch that I've seen is an off-shoot of genre
> studies: the conventions that grow up around different kinds of
> writing. An unspoken tenet of genre studies is that there is no such
> thing as good or bad writing - there's just conventions that are
> more or less interchangable. This attitude causes no difficulty to
> an academic, and can even tell us one or two interesting facts.
> However, the attitude is not much use to a working writer. Aside
> from the requests for productivity metrics (another blind alley that
> I won't go into here), a working writer is always judging writing:
> is it concise? Clear? Suitable to the audience?

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