The Complexity of Genre

Dean’s “Genre Theory” was very interesting and it revealed information I had not ever thought of before about genres. I found information within this article that I had already heard/learned  about, while I also came across information that I hadn’t heard of before which left me wondering. Dean expresses new compelling ideas about genre that give the reader a better insight on what more genres are.

At the beginning of this article, Dean explains the complexity of defining the word ‘genre.’ Before reading this article I never thought the definition of genre being anything other than something we do to categorize or sort something. For example, we have music in genres like country, rap, pop, etc.  So it kind of made me start to wonder what more a genre could be. Then Dean explains that genres “are defined more by situation than form……are more an explanation of social interaction than a  classification system.” However, before reading this I never thought of them genres being more than a “classification system” but I think I understand what Dean means.

Dean goes on to explain that genres are “responses of social interactions/ situations” but I became a little confused as to what she meant by this. I’m wondering if what she meant was that genres take form or are defined by social interactions/situations? I’m not sure what she even means by social interactions/situations. Then I got to “Genres Are Not Fixed” and it started to make more sense as to what she was referring to. She explains that genres are shaped by various influences at different times. When Dean stated genres had various influences it reminded me of movies and how movies can be categorized into different genres because they fit multiple characteristics. Later I found myself learning about the social aspect of genres and how they work within social settings. What she meant was that social situations shape our genres, she gave the example of how you wouldn’t submit a poem when a resume is expected. Overall, I think I better comprehend what she meant by saying that genres were social.

The historical aspect of genres was a little patchy for me. I didn’t understand how genres fit with historical aspects. I understood what she meant when she said that when genres change they depend on previous genres to develop but I didn’t understand what would cause them to change. Dean explains that they change but I had always thought that if they changed then you would simply add another genre, which confuses me.

Ultimately, I found myself delving into this article because it seemed very interesting to know that genres are more than what I thought I knew. Genres aren’t just used in literacy but through different aspects. We don’t have to only use them to categorize things like books, movies, or music, however we use genres in everyday life without even realizing it.


Communities within our Writing?

Joseph Harris’ article made me look back on the writing I have done in grade school and made me realize that we are involved in different writing communities throughout our whole life. It also intrigued me to learn from this article that sometimes we think of community “as an existing set of relationships” when maybe it’s something more than that. A community can also extend to writing. In a class, we are told to write about a specific topic and it is expected out of all our classmates. I never really thought about how we don’t just write as an “isolated individual” but as a community.

Harris makes the reference to a “working-class” and how he always affiliated himself with it. Likewise, I could say that I have always considered myself to be part of the choir community since I was in middle school and coming here it has been very fun but very different. Especially because in high school we all knew each other versus here barely anybody knows each other but end the end we work as a community to achieve a goal. So I realize that now I am part of the universities choir community because we share “values and interests..but to some degree would always feel separate from.” This also correlates to what Swales described a discourse community as having a set of goals within the community.

Not only am I part of the choir community but also of the university community, and like Barthes explains we often find yourself involved with communities that are “always simultaneously a part of several discourses.”

Bartholomae’s view on communities is more about “reinventing” and we as students have “to learn to speak this language, to speak as we do.” I agree with his opinion because as students we can’t just choose to write in a certain way because we want to. We all know that ultimately if that is not what the teacher wants then our grade will be at stake. So yeah in a way we have to learn to speak the professors “language” to fit in with what they are looking for. I believe this hinders us because like we wrote on a previous blog, it’s hurting our writing ability and creativity. Barthes explains that we tend to not only be in one community but that we often find ourselves involved with different ones.

Swales describes a discourse community as having six distinct characteristics but ultimately says that these communities have a similar goal. However, I find that this article proposes communities also being something that members do together but can find individualistic aspects within the community. And Swales doesn’t really show much importance of this aspect. I think it is important to be within a community but be able to stand out. This individuality we have is created by the many communities we have been part of throughout our life.

Different Discourse Communities, Same Characteristics

I will be honest, when I first began reading Swales’ “The Concept of Discourse Community” I had no clue as to what I was reading. I was really confused but once he started to make connections to organizations like the HKSC (the Hong Kong Study Circle), it began to make total sense. The classes and organizations I am involved with on campus (that could fit the requirements) began to come to mind and I noticed many of my classes fit the six characteristics described by Swales.

One of the classes that I saw that clearly fit the six defining characteristics of a discourse community was Women’s Glee. This class meets for an hour and fifteen minutes twice a week to rehearse music that we ultimately perform at the end of the semester for the public. This class has a set of common public goals of improving vocal skills through a performance of a variety of musical styles. These goals are clearly mentioned in our class syllabus and Moodle page. The Moodle page acts as our way of communication with the professor, sections leaders, and other students enrolled in the class and serves as a way to “provide information and feedback.1528488_609299992548719_2767390793217299657_n” This semester we are intercommunicating with the community and giving back to the campus, for example we are performing with third graders from around the community. The third characteristic is achieved because our professor/conductor focuses on giving feedback to each section of singers. Feedback is key to a great performance. For a great performance to occur, we always have to be open to change. Music sometimes has to be changed to fit everyone’s need. For this performance based class, we have acquired some specific lexis. For example, in order to have a performance we have to be able to watch the conductor and learn the hand signals she plans on using during the performance. We learn different terms such as legato, crescendo, decrescendo, diminuendo, and many more. This class has a variety of students that range from those majoring in music to those who are just doing it for fun, but we all have a small “degree of relevant” knowledge towards music.

Another community that I found that fit all the characteristics of a discourse community was BCM (Baptist Campus Ministry). It corresponds with the first characteristic: the club’s goals are to learn to follow Christ more closely, connect students to one anotb84a3bf4-b65b-48bf-b30b-3954d75d288fher and to area churches, serve others on campus, in the Charlotte community, and around the world! Secondly, BCM has various ways that we intercommunicate with each other. We have a Facebook page (with a group message), our own webpage, Twitter, and cell phone numbers. All these methods of communication serve as way to reach out to one another for upcoming events, feedback (if we gave a testimony), or cancellations, thus this follows the third characteristic. In BCM we have developed a specific lexis that I’ve learned to use in just my second semester of college, the acronym BCM for example. Within the club, we have people who have never been to church to those who’ve grown up in church. Some have gone to a Baptist church and others are of a different denomination but enjoy being with us. We have a very diverse group of people, some are freshmen and some are seniors. But despite our diversity, we all come together for one purpose.

Although both of these groups are completely different, they both work in the same way. I have realized that many things work this way. They follow the same characteristics but in a different form. Women’s Glee works to educate students about music and portray that through our performance. We do this through a more proper manner, via email or Moodle. While BCM is a group that focuses on coming closer to God in a more interactive/fun manner that differentiates from “school manners.” This is expressed through the way we communicate: text, Facebook, or Twitter. And this is where we see the differences in writing practices, although they meet the same characteristics they are by no means the same.

Right vs. Wrong

Gatekeeping can be applied to really any aspect of life because sometimes, in life, we find ourselves hoping to be liked by certain groups so that we “fit” in. For example, the five paragraph structure that we all know so well has become a way to get a good grade. Personally, I feel like I followed this format because I knew that if I didn’t, it wouldn’t get me a good grade and teachers always teach us that this is the ONLY way to write. Therefore now in college, personally I find it difficult to break away from “old habits.” The Elements of Literacy states that “particular practices promote particular skills” which can explain why it becomes hard not to want to write in the five paragraph format that is engraved into our brains.

I believe this structure of writing is only hindering our creativity and causing us to fear writing. This method of writing in five paragraphs has caused many people to believe that they are “bad writers,” like Brannon stated in his article. Writing has been transformed into “an unrealistic view of the writing process, a view that assumes writing is done by formula and in a social vacuum” (The Five-Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education).Writing has been molded into something that it isn’t. Schools are at fault for this because all they want is for students to test to see how literate students are, when it really should be more than that.

I think that this concept is what is making us fail as writers. What struck me while reading Brannon’s article was when he mentioned that, “Teaching writing (rather than teaching formats) takes an understanding of their search and scholarship in composition, takes understanding of oneself as a writer, and takes an in-depth understanding of how writers truly develop as writers.” I thought this was very true because if we aren’t given the freedom to write in the way we want than how are teachers supposed to know how we really feel about what we are writing, or if we are encouraged so much to write in this format, is it because the teachers really don’t care about our actual thoughts on what we are writing?

What writing means to me

The definition of being literate is being able to read and write, but I think it goes beyond just being able to do that. Being literate goes to a greater extent of being able to make deep connections to whatever you are reading/writing and having knowledge of literature.

In my opinion “good” writing could mean different things. For example, “good” writing could mean being able to comprehensibly portray one’s thoughts and ideas through their writing. “Good” writing makes me believe that the person doing the writing is taking their time to create “good” writing. “Good” writing could also mean that writing flows, is logical, and/or free of grammatical errors. Therefore, grammatical errors, lack of interest, or lack of main focus in writing are examples of what is not found in “good” writing.

Like the article I read, I am a “grammatically conscientious person.” I care about what my writing portrays to others, so I would not be caught writing the wrong “their”, “there”, or “they’re.” Thus, one of my many pet peeves in writing is when someone uses the wrong “their”, “there”, or “they’re.” Or when people write or say “me and you” or “my sister and me”, the proper way of saying/writing this was engraved into my brain after my chorus teacher would get onto us for saying it incorrectly. Sometimes I don’t understand how people can get these words confused/wrong.

I found the article “Teaching as Unteaching” to be super interesting. I found that last semester (remembering that it this is my first year of college) I would be asked to do writing assignments with little to no requirements, unlike in high school writing assignments were very straightforward with directions on how to and what to write about. I feel like high school teachers make writing in college out to be something that is drastically difficult, but I’ve found the opposite. After reading this article my thoughts on what “good” writing is has become questionable.

This article has made me sort of confused as to what is the correct way to write. Or is there a correct way to write? This article has made me realize that as long as the writer has a main focus and gets the point across that’s all that really matters. Also, I feel like this article has clarified what professors want our writing to be like.

What is Inquiry?

An inquiry, according to Google definitions, is an act of asking for information. Merriam-Webster says that the definition of inquiry varies: a request for information, an official effort to collect and examine information about something, or the act of asking questions in order to gather or collect information. states that the information must be truthful or knowledgeable and it could also be a type of interrogation. Some synonyms related to inquiry are examination, inquisition, investigation, research, or study. inform us that we carry the process of inquiry from the time we are born, for example “babies observe faces that come near, they grasp objects” etc. and these are forms of the process of inquiring. Inquiry is not about finding the correct answer but rather finding solutions to questions or issues.

Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) is an approach to increase learning through the “development of a hands-on, minds-on and research-based disposition.” Inquiry based learning does not have to be just about asking questions but rather using the answers to those questions and converting that information into useful knowledge. Different fields of studies use inquiry based learning such as the studies of anthropology, social studies, health sciences, chemistry, biology, math, art, and many more.

Not everyone agrees on what inquiry and inquiry based learning is. Different sites express different opinions on inquiry and inquiry based learning. People tend to disagree on who should learn through inquiry. For example, one site stated that inquiry based learning should be taught so students can learn to use the data they are given. They also argue that schools should go beyond “memorizing facts and information” because that is not the most important skill in today’s world. People also argue that inquiry is not just about scientific method but focuses on the intellectual problem-solving skills. Some people say that the answers to the questions should be truthful and others say they only need answers. I found that many misconceptions about inquiry and inquiry based learning overlapped such as how inquiry is thought to be the only true method of learning.