Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clarifying some terminology...

In Jason's first draft the first paper, he responded to the WPA Outcomes by saying there were terms used, like rhetoric, genre, and format, which didn't make sense on an intial reading, but which he assumed would make more sense later. In my response to the google doc of his most recent draft, I clarified these terms, and I thought I'd pass my response on to the class as a whole.

rhetoric--the study of how to accomplish one's intentions through effective communication.

genre--a type or kind. Music has genres, like classical, ballad, rock, or bluegrass. Games have genres like board, video, RPG, etc. Writing too has genres. Most of us are used to thinking of writing genres like poetry, the novel, the short story, or drama, but each time you write a specific kind of text, you write in a genre of writing. The concept of genre gives you a rubric through which to think about the characteristics of different kinds of writing. Email, for instance, is digitally published and distributed, usually short, conversational, informal, and covers a single topic. It has a specific format. There's a subject line. There's a body. Often there's a signature. Google "How to write good emails," and you'll be linked to a host of advice about how to effectively create texts in the genre of email. In a similar manner, you can research how to write in any number of genres. Google how to write a good term paper, portfolio, resume...

format--one aspect of a genre is the format. The format refers to how a document is laid out, the order in which information is presented, if it's OK to use bullets or sub-headings, what kind of documentation style to use, what margins to use, etc. Researching and learning the expected format for a genre can be as simple as asking for an example of it. For instance, when your boss asks you to put together a proposal, ask if she has an example of a good proposal she can share to use as a model.

Keep the questions coming.

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