Although genre studies abound in literary criticism, researchers and scholars interested in the social contexts of literacy have recently become interested in the dynamic, rhetorical dimensions of speech genres. Within this burgeoning scholarly community, the authors are among the first researchers working within social science traditions to study genre from the perspective of the implicit knowledge of language users. Thus, this is the first sociocognitive study of genre using case-study, naturalistic research methods combined with the techniques of rhetorical and discourse analysis. The term "genre knowledge" refers to an individual's repertoire of situationally appropriate responses to recurrent situations -- from immediate encounters to distanced communication through the medium of print, and more recently, the electronic media. One way to study the textual character of disciplinary knowledge is to examine both the situated actions of writers, and the communicative systems in which disciplinary actors participate. These two perspectives are presented in this book.
The authors' studies of disciplinary communication examine operations of systems as diverse as peer review in scientific publications and language in a first grade science classroom. The methods used include case study and ethnographic techniques, rhetorical and discourse analysis of changing features within large corpora and in the texts of individual writers. Through the use of these techniques, the authors engaged in both micro-level and macro-level analyses and developed a perspective which reflects both foci. From this perspective they propose that what micro-level studies of actors' situated actions frequently depict as individual processes, can also be interpreted -- from the macro-level -- as communicative acts within a discursive network or system.
The research methods and the theoretical framework presented are designed to raise provocative questions for scholars, researchers, and teachers in a number of fields: linguists who teach and conduct research in ESP and LSP and are interested in methods for studying professional communication; scholars in the fields of communication, rhetoric, and sociology of science with an interest in the textual dynamics of scientific and scholarly communities; educational researchers interested in cognition in context; and composition scholars interested in writing in the disciplines.
"…shows that we have made great stides in our theoretical explanations of genre and in our applications of that theory to particular genres and to the classroom. Although differing somewhat in their theoretical bases, all of the writers in this book treat genres as dynamic actions that entail much more than form alone."
—College Compostion and Communication
"This is a strong presentation with both meticulous accounts of research on academic and scholarly writing, and succinct summaries of relevant theories of discourse. The result is an impressive effort to integrate the heft of their empirical studies into a theoretical framework friendly to both the pedagogical and research interests of writing disciplines."
"This work on the genres of academic cultures is timely, scholarly and engaging. The authors' use of case study data, and their linguistic and content analyses are done with great skill, and these enhance their general argument. Berkenkotter and Huckin build a powerful case for a new, sociocognitive theory of genres."
Professor of Linguistics and Education, University of Mexico
"Your book has made a valuable contribution to the scholarship in technical and scientific communication and should influence the direction of the field -- what we think and what we value -- for years to come."
Texas Tech University, Coordinator of the 1995 NCTE Awards
Contents: Preface. Rethinking Genre from a Sociocognitive Perspective. News Value in Scientific Journal Articles. You Are What You Cite: Novelty and Intertextuality in a Biologist's Experimental Article. Sites of Contention, Sites of Negotiation: Textual Dynamics of Peer Review in the Construction of Scientific Knowledge. Evolution of a Scholarly Forum: Reader, 1977-1988. Gatekeeping at an Academic Convention. Conventions, Conversations, and the Writer: An Apprenticeship Tale of a Doctoral Student, with John M. Ackerman. J.M. AckermanPostscript: The Assimilation and Tactics of Nate. Suffer the Little Children: Learning the Curriculum Genres of School and University. Appendices.