Key Terms and Concepts
There are so many terms and concepts in this week’s readings that it seems necessary to begin by defining them.
Boundary Objects: A genre that is the product of a single community but can be “understood, used, or prescribed by another community” (Popham, 2005, pp. 282-283).
Distallation: The process by which “a discipline takes key theories or ideas from another discipline and summarizes them into kernels of knowledge to use for its own purposes” (Popham, 2005, p. 285).
“Felicity” Conditions: Conditions that “must be right in order for the speech act to succeed” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 314).
Genres: “Patterned, typical, and therefore intelligible textual forms” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 311).”Regulated, textual forms functioning in repeating situations” (Popham, 2005, p. 282).
Genre Sets: “Collection of texts someone in a particular role is likely to produce” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 318).
Genre Systems: “Comprised of the several genre sets of people working together in an organized way, plus the patterned relations in the production, flow, and use of these documents” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 318).
Illocutionary Act: The act intended for the hearer to recognize (Bazerman, 2004, p. 318).
Interpenetration: The process of exporting and importing ideas–closely related to reflexion (Popham, 2005, p. 285).
Locutionary Act: “Literally what is said” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 314).
Perlocutionary Effect: “How people take up the acts and determine the consequences of that act for future interaction” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 314).
Propositional Act: The proposition stated in the locutionary act (Bazerman, 2004, p. 314).
Reflexion: A strategy for tracing interpenetration by highlighting “a discipline’s ‘blind spots’ by emphasizing the constructedness of its identity” (Popham, 2005, p. 285).
Social Fact: “Those things people believe to be true, and therefore bear on how they define a situation” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 312).
Speech Act: Acts that are “done by the words themselves” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 313). For example, marriage, war, promotions.
Systems of Genres: Part of the systems of activity; the institutional grouping of the genre systems that “identify a framework which organizes their work, attention, and accomplishment” (Bazerman, 2004, p. 319).
Three-leveled Analysis of Speech Acts: Proposed method for analysis: 1) what was stated (locutionary), 2) what was intended (illocutionary), and 3) actual effect (perlocutionary) (Bazerman, 2004, p. 315).
Translation: Conversion of vocabulary, theories, methodologies, or forms from one discipline to another (Popham, 2005, p. 284).
Discussion of Readings as a Network
If we start with Miller’s 1984 article, we can kind of place it at the center of our little network–Miller establishes the need for a systematic, categorized definition of genres, explaining why previous attempts to define were insufficient. From Miller, Bazerman expands the notion of genre and offers a method for analyzing their function in human systems of activity. Popham and Miller then, again, both expand the discussion of genres to include interdisciplinary and community functions. These connections are illustrated in the diagram:
Doctoral Students Helping Doctoral Students
Here is Renae Frey’s blog on genre. Frey is a doctoral student at the University of Miami, Oxford, Ohio. Her blog functions as both a resource for better understanding genre theory and as an object of analysis.
Considering genres as a rhetorical response to recurring situations (both cultural and disciplinary) makes me consider not only how I teach my freshmen but also how I train consultants to work with other composers. Instead of considering the rigid forms of certain texts, considering the functions they perform in response to situations will better help us understand how to work with students. For instance, a resume is now a well-recognized genre. There are cultural expectations that a genre will adhere to a certain format and length and include certain information. Thinking about the resume in terms of the illocutionary act (what is intended), the locutionary act (what is said), and the perlocutionary effect (the resulting action) will likely prove more beneficial. Understanding the audience and discipline and anticipating the effects the document might have on the audience is something that writing center consultants already do, but separating those concepts and foregrounding them for discussion could prove fruitful.
Popham’s article also sparked a lot of thoughts for me about the ways that we document our services in the writing center world, but especially in the Noel Studio. Thinking about medical documents as “boundary objects” made me realize how many different functions we intend certain documents to serve. If we were to trace the history of records of consultations, I’m not sure where we would find the origins. These documents serve as the record of what was discussed (for the writing center and the student), data assessment (for potentially department chairs or provosts), and as proof that the student visited (for the faculty member). While the record is different for each center, there are commonalities that classify it as a genre: most often there are data fields for the “proof” (student’s name, date, class), open spaces for comments of what was discussed (the consultant’s take on the consultation), and checkboxes for easy assessment (what was worked on, areas of focus, recommended follow-up). Surprisingly, the records for a writing center do not seem that different than medical records–they collect data and seemingly tell the “diagnosis” of the student’s writing.
Finally, after a discussion with Shelley last week about my dissertation, I’m seeing where I might be able to use genre theory to explore multimodal communication. Considering forms of digital writing as genres might make teaching and working with it less intimidating for teachers and consultants. I definitely need to reread each of these sources and start reading more about each, but I’m excited about this potential focus for my dissertation.