Derived from French and Latin, means "kind" or "genus".



This is a collaborative, crowd-sourced glossary of terms important to genre studies across disciplines. The primary definitions are shown on this main page, and each term links to additional information, such as original use, other notable uses, examples and applications, and references, which are linked to the GXB Bibliography.


Adaptation remake search for term

A film that has been adapted from an earlier version but that does not maintain authenticity as defined by anthropologist Charles Lindholm.

Adapted genre search for term

A genre accepted by the community of its users for their purposes, despite the presence of recognizable, and possibly archaic, conventions of an older genre. This may be a transition stage to an entirely new genre. (Crowston & Williams, 2000).

Agnation search for term

In the sense of "genealogical descent," this term is used by researchers in systemic-functional linguistics (SFL) to conceptualize what researchers in rhetorical genre studies (RGS) would call "genre sets" or "genre systems." In SFL, genres are classified by a scale of functional differences and similarities instead of being conceived as networked group of genres. "Agnation" maps genres along paths of similar functional relations; the hope is that making these identifications along "familial" lines will help learners deal with texts that seem further from a core sense of the genre and will help teachers discover pedagogical strategies for teaching genre and genre relations (Hyland, 2002).

Antecedent genre search for term

A well-established genre from the near or distant past that helps rhetors make sense of a novel situation (or constrains their ability to recognize the disjunctures between the old situation and the new) (Jamieson, 1975). "Antecedent genres are capable of imposing powerful constraints" (p. 414) and raise questions about how free the rhetor's choice is from among available means of persuasion.


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Blurred genre search for term

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Chronotope, genre as search for term

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Collaborative genre search for term

Genres requiring communicative interaction between users, often with some kind of multimedia communication technology (Yates, Orlikowski, & Rennecker, 1997).

Communicative savvy search for term

Communicative ‘savvy’ (Dannels & Martin, 2009; see also, Schryer et al, 2005) is defined as a kind of “rhetorical flexibility” (Dannels & Martin, 2008, p. 154). It is realized through  “an openness,” which allows genre users to adjust to the demands of “particular circumstances” (Schryer et al., 2005, p. 256) and act “in situations of uncertainty” where they must “improvise and manage” (p. 256) communication in order to meet the demands arising. Schryer and Spoel (2005) refer to this process as “improvisation” (p. 414).

Corollary genre search for term

A genre variation engendered when actors revise some of the discursive qualities and expectations of a particular genre but do not completely transform the genre itself. Such modifications bring about derivative or 'corollary' genres (Yates & Orlikowski, 2007).

Cybergenre search for term

A class of genre emerging from the introduction and increasing use of the Internet as a medium of communication. The class includes genres that existed in other media and "migrated" to the Internet, as well as "novel" genres that have no antecedent genres in other media (as opposed to, e.g., blogs, which have obvious antecedents in diaries). (Shepherd & Watters, 1999)

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Discourse community search for term

Collection of people or groups that work towards a common goal through communication. "A 'discourse community' is a group of individuals bound by a common interest who communicate through approved channels and whose discourse is regulated" (Porter 1986, 38–39). This group develops a process for communication, a unique vocabulary of jargon, and a power structure tied to the source of their community. John Swales maintains that genres both “belong” to discourse communities and help to define them.  He outlined six characteristics of discourse communities: (1) common public goals; (2) methods of communicating among members; (3) participatory communication methods; (4) genres that define the group; (5) a lexis; and (6) a standard of knowledge needed for membership (Swales 1990, 471-473). 

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Ecology, genre search for term

An interacting, interdependent system or network of genres, as distinct from a series of genres with a specifically sequential series of uptakes (see genre chain) (Erickson, 2000).

Emergent genre search for term

A cybergenre that bears a "chromosomal imprint" of an antecedent genre in another medium, but demonstrating significant change warranting identification as a new genre (Shepherd & Watters, 1998).

Extant subgenre search for term

A class of cybergenres in which the new genre emerges directly from a "genre existing in other media" (Shepherd & Watters, 1998, p. 2). Extant subgenres are genres which clearly "migrated" to the electronic medium.

Extrinsic genre search for term

A reader's or critic's conception of a work's genre that differs from the author's, sometimes referred to as the "wrong" genre, as it is not true to the author's original intentions (Fowler, 1971).

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Fuzzy genre search for term

A genre that is not really defined - it is still in the works.  The origins may not be clear, or the definitions are not clear.  Thusly, fuzzy. Test.


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Generic calcification search for term

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Generic structure potential search for term

A concept intended to problematize the assumption that any text classified as an instance of a particular genre is simply a faithful reproduction of that genre's conventions. Texts are rather, as Hyland (2002) says, "spread along a continuum of approximation to core genre examples with varying options and restrictions operating in particular cases" (p. 120). Therefore it is the potential in "generic structure potential" that should be highlighted in thinking about the affordances and constraints available when a text performs a genre.

Genre awareness search for term

“A critical consciousness of both rhetorical purposes and ideological effects of generic forms” (Devitt, 2004, p. 189). The term has also been used to describe knowledge of textual conventions, as in Mustafa (1995).

Rowley-Jolivet and Carter Thomas (2005) include under genre awareness “taking into account the targeted audience, the communicative purpose of the discourse, and the conventions socially constructed by the discourse community” (p. 42). Devitt (2004) separates a pedagogy of genre awareness from the teaching of specific genres, since, as Eriksson and Gustafsson (2008) observe, genre awareness has been “misunderstood to consist of mere text type mastery rather than the ability to act and contribute in relevant ways in a discourse community” (p. 123).

Genre chains search for term

A succession of genres ordered in a particular chronological sequence in which one genre is often a necessary antecedent to another. Such sequences can be used as a planning tool for discourse communities familiar with each genre. Genre chains represent one kind of relationship within Swales' (2004) "constellations of genres."

Genre colony search for term

A grouping of closely related genres "serving broadly similar communicative purposes, but not necessarily all the communicative purposes in cases where they serve more than one" (Bhatia, 2004, p. 59).

Genre facet search for term

A way of defining the main content of a genre that involves designating the classes of content associated with it (Stamatatos, Fakotakis, & Kokkinakis, 2002).

Genre field analysis search for term

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Genre repertoire search for term

"The set of genres that are routinely enacted by the members of a community" (Orlikowski & Yates, 1994, p. 542).

Genre set search for term

The "full range of the kind of texts" that one person uses to fill out one side of a "multiple person interaction." (Bazerman, 1994, p. 98).

Genre stream search for term

A "genre stream" refers to a genre which spawns several variants that "flow through" the parent genre, existing as their own genres as they yet "retain their coherence through shared institutions, aesthetics, and audiences" (Lena and Peterson, 2008).

Genre Studies search for term

Literary genre studies is a structuralist approach to the study of genre and genre theory in literary theory, film theory, and other cultural theories. The study of a genre in this way examines the structural elements that combine in the telling of a story and finds patterns in collections of stories. When these elements (or semiotic codes) begin to carry inherent information, a genre emerges. In art history, genre theory considers the visual arts in a similar way.

Linguistic genre studies is best described by Systemic Functional Linguistics or "SFL", also known as the Sydney School of genre analysis. SFL scholars believe that language structure is an integral part of a text's social context and function.[1] SFL scholars often conduct research that focuses on genres usefulness in pedagogy.

English for Specific Purposes or "ESP" is another school of literary genre studies that examines the pedagogical implications of genre. ESP scholars focus on how genre can help non-native English speakers, often in upper-level academic programs, learn how to use the language and its conventions through the application of genre.[2]

Rhetorical Genre Studies or "RGS" studies genre as social action. RGS emerged from Carolyn R. Miller's article "Genre as Social Action".[3]

Genre system search for term

As introduced by Bazerman (1994), a genre system consists of "interrelated genres that interact with each other in specific settings" (97). "The system of genres [is] the full set of genres that instantiate the participation of all . . . parties. . . . This would be the full interaction, the full event, the set of social relations as it has been enacted. It embodies the full history of speech events as intertextual occurrences, but attending to the way that all the intertext is instantiated in generic form establishing the current act in relation to prior acts" (p.99).

Genre turn search for term

A progression made in the field of Rhetoric and Composition studies, where genre is the "guiding context" in a number of composition textbooks (Bawarshi and Reif, 2010).  The "turn" that is made takes a focus on "the teaching of writing at various levels and in various contexts" and expands it to "the study of writing as a form of ideological action and social participation," and finally focuses on conducting "research on writing, metacognition, and transferability" (Bawarshi and Reif, 2010).

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Historical genre search for term

A genre that is defined by its cultural and historical usage, whose features and definition are formulated from the observation of preexisting literary knowledge (Feuer, 1987). The opposite of a theoretical genre. Note: Not to be confused with the genre of the "historical novel," in which a work of fiction is set in a historical time and place and/or features historical events as the main subject.

Hybrid genre search for term

Jamieson and Campbell (1982) theorize how to name, define, and understand the blending of generic features in certain acts. "For our purposes, we shall label such generic blends 'rhetorical hybrids,' a metaphor intended to emphasize the productive but transitory character of these combinations" (p. 147). Jamieson and Campbell do not specify whether the fusion is to result from recurrent elements or is more unique to a particular moment or situation.

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Integrity, genre search for term

According to Bhatia (1997), “[g]eneric integrity is the product of the conventional features of a specific generic construct ... [that] often constrain the use of linguistic resources (lexico-grammatical as well as discoursal), and are frequently invoked to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the genre or even determine the choice of the genre to suit a particular context” (360-362).

Ansary and Babaii (2005) use and summarize Bhatia’s definition of “generic integrity,” simply stating that it is the genre’s “recognizable structural identity” (271).


Inter-genre-ality search for term

Amy J. Devitt uses this term to describe the way genres interact with other genres. 

Intermediary genre search for term

As introduced by Tachino (2012), an intermediary genre is “a genre that facilitates the ‘uptake’ (Freadman, 2002) of a genre by another genre,” a genre that “can be used to connect and mobilize two otherwise unconnected genres to make uptake possible” (p. 456). Tachino’s approach to intermediary genres functions to “contribute to our understanding of how multiple genres relate and interact through uptake; at the same time, it should also help us understand what constellation of strategies is at one’s disposal in influencing uptake, thus shedding light to the nature of rhetorical agency” (p. 458).

Intrinsic genre search for term

The genre classification upon which the author and the interpreter must agree in order to agree upon meaning, or, simply, the genre the author intended for a given work (Fowler, 1971).

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Lyric essay search for term

Lyric essay is a term that some writers of creative nonfiction use to describe a type of creative essay that blends a lyrical, poetic sensibility with intellectual engagement. Although it may include personal elements, it is not a memoir or personal essay, where the primary subject is the writer's own experience. Not all creative essayists have embraced the term, however, which makes it a problematic classification in this community.

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Macro genre search for term

In Systemic Functional Linguistics, "texts which combine more fundamental elemental genres such as recounts, narratives, explanations, and so on" (Hyland, 2002, p. 123). Macro genre stands in for the idea of "complex" or "secondary" genres that might involve other multiple embedded genres. The SFL approach avoids the difficulty of talking about "complex" or combined genres as separate from other genre types by only recognizing a limited set of genres as such. This small set of acknowledged genres, such as the recount, are then combined to create all other text types as macro genres.

Meme search for term

Abbreviation of mimeme, which is derived from the Greek mimesis (imitation).

Meta-genre search for term

Giltrow (2002) introduced the term "meta-genre" to describe "situated language about situated language" (p. 190). More generally, she describes meta-genres as “[A]tmospheres of wordings and activities, demonstrated precedents or sequestered expectations" that surround a genre and indicate how readers and writers should appropriately take it up" (Giltrow, 2002, p. 195).

Metagenre search for term

Carter (2007) uses the term "metagenre" to designate "broader patterns of language as social action, similar kinds of typified responses to related recurrent situations" (p 393). He does this in the context of a discussion of academic ways of knowing, doing, and writing across the disciplines. "Metagenre" in this sense describes similar ways of knowing, doing, and writing, in related disciplines.

Migration, genre search for term

Genre migration is the reproduction of a genre established in one medium or community within another medium or community. It is usually unreflective or unpremeditated action and reflects the power of institutions to propagate established ways of doing things.

Mutt genre search for term

Genres that share superficial conventions with other genres but have been taken out of their original context, resulting in obscured audiences and purposes. "[M]utt genres . . . mimic genres that mediate activities in other activity systems, but within the FYC [first-year composition] system their purposes and audiences are vague or even contradictory. They are quite different from and serve very different purposes in FYC than they do in other disciplinary activity systems" (Wardle, 2009, p. 774).

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Novel genre or subgenre search for term

A class of cybergenres in which the new genre emerges within the new medium. Novel subgenres are "either not based on previously existing genres or substantially different from existing genres on the basis of increased functionality" (97). They can be either spontaneous or emergent (Shepherd & Watters, 1998).

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Occluded genre search for term

A genre that is "out of sight" to "outsiders and apprentices"; occluded genres perform "essential waystage roles in the administrative and evaluative functioning of the research worlds" (Swales, 2004, p. 18). Swales originated the term and uses it specifically with reference to the genre system of academic research.

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Primary genre search for term

Bakhtin distinguishes between primary and secondary speech genres. Primary genres are simple genres that take form in “unmediated speech communion” (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 62).

Public genres search for term

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Recurrence search for term

The sense that a situation is similar to past or other situations. Recurrence is “intersubjective,” social, and immaterial (Miller 156). 

Regularized genre resources search for term

Given Schryer's (2000) definition of genres as "constellations of . . . improvisational strategies with chronotopic orientations" (p. 450), she later distinguished two types of resources acquired by apprentices in professional contexts that allow them to improvise strategically. These are regulated resources and regularized resources. "Regularized resources . . . refer to strategies that emerge from practice situations and are more tacit [than regulated resources]" (Schryer & Spoel, 2005, p. 250, emphasis original).

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Salience search for term

The degree to which an audience recognizes the formal criteria of a genre; parody, satire, or subversion is one measure of this degree. When genre features are widely and easily recognized, or have salience, the genre can be "exploited by genre users with covert goals. . . . Genre salience is indicated by genre abusability" (Puschmann, 2009, p. 51).

Secondary genre search for term

Bakhtin distinguishes between primary and secondary speech genres. Secondary, or complex, speech genres develop in highly organized cultural communication and are usually mediated (written) and removed from the context of "actual reality." Secondary genres, as "historical formations," tend to "absorb and digest" primary speech genres, "reaccentuating" the simpler genres (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 62).

Speech genre search for term

"Language is realized in the form of individualized concrete utterances (oral and written) by participants in the various areas of human activity. . . . each sphere in which language is used develops its own relatively stable types of these utterances. These we may call speech genres. . . . Special emphasis should be placed on the extreme heterogeneity of speech genres (oral and written)." (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 60; emphasis original).

Spontaneous genre search for term

A cybergenre that has never existed in other media; a novel genre that arises with no clear antecedent genres in non-electronic form (Shepherd & Watters, 1998).

Structurational perspective search for term

The recursive relationship between everyday activities and the social structures that are the medium and the outcome of the activities. Central to a structurational perspective is the recognition that social structures (such as genres) do not exist "out there," but are constituted through the ongoing actions of knowledgeable human agents, actions that are shaped, in turn, by the structures (Yates & Orlikowski, 2007, p.69).

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Trope search for term

A literary or cultural theme that is repeated. Also, rhetorically, a word or phrase that is used figuratively or metphorically

Trope search for term

A literary or cultural theme that is repeated. Also, rhetorically, a word or phrase that is used figuratively or metphorically

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Uptake search for term

Both process and outcome of recognizing and making decisions about genres. As process, uptakes are "complex, often habitualized, socio-cognitive pathways that mediate our interactions with others and the world" (Bawarshi, 2010, p. 199). Smoothly operating uptakes are tacit, deeply ingrained, and ideologically consequential. Knowledge of how certain genres are to be taken up is "knowledge of what to take up, how, and when, including how to execute uptakes strategically and when to resist expected uptakes" (p. 200). As outcome, uptake also describes the long-term social consequences of repeated tacit genre-recognition and genre-use.

Utterance search for term

An element of speech that serves as "a link in the chain of speech communication" (Bakhtin, 1986, p. 91).

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