A special topics course addressed to master’s students in English, Technical Communication, and Communication, and doctoral students in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, as well as Design. Aims to develop a multidisciplinary theoretical understanding of genre theory, to examine a wide variety of genres, and to discern and analyze new genres as well as old genres when they were emerging, with an eye on the balance between stability and change and on the relationships between genre, identity, and power.
Genres are ways of acting together, recurrent interactions that enable social coordination. Genres both constrain and enable, they regulate and potentiate; they link together in systems and ecologies that help constitute our social identities, institutions, and cultures. Genre has been an active area in rhetorical studies in the past 20 years. But genre is a concept that cuts across disciplines and media: literary studies, the visual arts, music, film and media studies, linguistics, information science, technical communication.
The new media have created new opportunities for symbolic action and thus the potential for many new genres. But new genres raise the question of how genres change. How do they balance stability with innovation? How do we develop shared recognitions and identifications in unprecedented situations? How are emerging genres related to older ones? Can the same theories that were developed for print genres account for visual and digital genres?
This special topics course is addressed to master’s students in English, Technical Communication, and Communication, and to doctoral students in CRDM and Design (master’s students should register for ENG 583 and doctoral students for ENG 798).
We will read widely, to develop a multidisciplinary understanding of genre theory and to begin answering some of the questions raised above. We will also examine a wide variety of genres, to discern and analyze new genres as well as old genres when they were emerging, with an eye on the balance between stability and change and on the relationships between genre, identity, and power.
- Develop a multidisciplinary understanding of genres and genre theory
- Examine the historical development of one or more genres in detail
- Develop a critical vocabulary for describing and analyzing genres and genre change
- Propose and design a new genre
- Contribute to the development of an academically useful web resource on emerging genres
Final grades will be based on your registration category and the quality of your work, as shown here:
Note that the distribution of credit for master's and doctoral students is somewhat different. In addition, my expectations on each assignment are more rigorous for doctoral students than for master's students. Details about each assignment are provided on the Assignments page and will be linked from each due date on the course schedule.