This exercise on public genre awareness has two parts. In the first part, “Decoding a public genre,” students begin to familiarize themselves with a new genre by comparing it to one with which they’re familiar: the academic essay. This can be done as homework. In the second part, “Preparing to write a public genre,” after annotating a selection of genre models that you provide (specific to your topic/course), students work in groups, discussing answers to the questions to hone in on more specific conventions of the genre.
To become familiar with the essential conventions of a public genre; to identify consistencies and differences between scholarly essays and a new genre; to identify more subtle conventions of a new genre; to begin to plan your new genre
rhetorical situation; genre
Part 1: Decoding a Public Genre
- In what obvious ways is this genre different from the academic essay?
- Who is this genre written for? Describe its target audience.
- Find two lines that you like. Why do you like them?
- Are there elements of the standard introduction (aka the traditional scholarly introduction) here? If so, what are the lines?
- What other elements of the academic essay are present?
- What different kinds of evidence does this piece incorporate?
- Compare the writing style to scholarly writing. How is it similar and different?
- Find one scholarly quotation from our shared readings that would never be in this new genre. Why? What words or phrases would keep it from being a part of this new genre?
- Find one line in the new genre that would never be in an academic essay. Why? What words or phrases would keep it from being a part of an academic essay?
- How does the author cite sources? Where does the author not cite sources?
Part 2: Preparing to Write a Public Genre
- Compare the annotations that you and the others in your group completed. What annotations do you have in common? Based on this comparison, what seem to be essential components of the new genre?
- Compare the words and other sentence-level aspects that you and your classmates have flagged that seem to contribute to tone. What are some of the techniques that writers can use to achieve the appropriate tone for the new genre?
- Compare the annotations that you and the others in your group completed. What annotations do you not have in common? Based on this comparison, what seem to be good but nonessential aspects of the new genre?
- Individual reflections: What ideas does this exercise give you for your own project?