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ERIC Number: EJ1082224
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1522-7502
A Genre Approach to Writing Assignments
Clark, Irene
Composition Forum, v14 n2 Fall 2005
In their recent article, "Materiality and Genre in the Study of Discourse Communities," Devitt, Bawarshi, and Reiff maintain that genre analysis can enable outsiders to a discourse community "to connect what community members know and do with what they say and how they say it--their language practices" (542). Genre analysis, the article emphasizes, fosters understanding of how "'lived textuality' plays a role in the lived experience of a group" (542) because it focuses on how actual language use connects with "underlying ideas, values, and beliefs" (543). Building on the idea that genre offers insight into the complex interrelationship between language and community, this essay will suggest that genre study can provide a useful framework for analyzing writing prompts, enabling teachers in a variety of disciplines to become aware of implicit assumptions in the writing tasks they assign. My essay will argue that a genre approach to writing assignments can foster teacher awareness of unexpressed expectations in the writing they assign and that such awareness can help students complete writing tasks more successfully. Although writing assignments and the essays they produce cannot be viewed as homogenous, a "one-size-fits-all" form of writing, and although it is generally recognized that writing occurs in a disciplinary context, college writing assignments across the disciplines often contain assumed genre requirements which students may be unable to discern simply by reading the prompt. In classes focusing on interpretive, analytic, or argumentative writing, for example, such assumptions can include the necessity of constructing a rhetorically effective argument, thesis, or position which incorporates a suitable writer's stance, acknowledges opposing views, addresses audience appropriately, distinguishes between "old" and "new" information, and properly incorporates material from published works. These conceptual and rhetorical elements constitute implicit requirements of many college writing assignments, and a genre approach can thus be useful in helping students respond to those assignments.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
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