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

Subject: Re: Genre (was Re: Need help with a research project)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2000 10:06:40 -0800

Bryan Jonker wrote:
> 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).

Genre theory is not just the elementary fact that some types of
writing are suitable to different purposes and circumstances. It's
an entire school of rhetorical studies, much beloved by grad
students looking for something new to write about, and it carries a
lot of academic baggage.

> Are you saying that you don't need to know your audience to write
> effectively?

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).

Strangely enough, despite the name of their school of thought, genre
theorists seem almost indifferent to such concerns. They observe and
categorize the conventions in a genre, but the origins or purpose of
the work is rarely mentioned. In fact, this is one of my objections
to the area.

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

No, I'm using "genre theory" in a sense that you aren't familiar

As for academia, I was there for ten years, so I know what I'm
talking about.

I stand by my comments.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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