After I learned how to read, I enjoyed children’s books, such as The Bobsy Twins and Black Beauty. These were short, easy to read and grew my vocabulary. As I grew, my interests changed as well. I discovered books such as Little Women and Heidi. These took me to other countries as well as other times in history. But, I also found comic books. The antics of Archie and Jughead spoke to the humor level of a elementary-schooler.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but all of these came from differing genres, which is defined by Writing Commons as “a classification scheme for texts” (Moxley). But, we as teachers need to also remember the lesson for students that is also in this article, “As you progress through your academic coursework, you will be introduced to different disciplines and various ways of developing and substantiating knowledge claims. A successful writer is able to navigate from one genre to another” (Moxley).
Of course, as I grew, my tastes in literature changed and evolved. In high school, I was introduced to the classics; Poe, Faulkner, Williams, and Fitzgerald. While I enjoyed these very much, I still liked my “low brow” romance books. Even now, my tastes change and are varied.
As an undergraduate, and especially now in graduate school, genre was and continues to be a huge subject. We have to decide which track we want to take in our writing courses. We are asked continually which genre we write to and who our audience is. Bill Hart-Davidson argues “that genres are habitual responses to recurring socially bounded situations” (39). In my opinion, he is defining genres as the same thing over and over again for the same people.
I do agree with this assessment to a certain degree. But, Hart-Davidson also gave me something to think about when he expanded on this idea of “no single text is a genre; it can only be an instance of that genre as it enters into contexts (activity systems) where it might be taken up as such an instance” (40). In other words, an author can’t say they are writing a science fiction piece unless it has major components of other science fiction texts.
Andrea Lunsford reminds us that “writing is performative” (43), when she quotes Kenneth Burke theory that “language and writing have the capacity to act, to do things in the world” (44). This is why I appreciate writing so much; it has the ability to entertain, to inform, and to educate. However, it can also change the world.
Moxley, Joe. Genres Introduction, https://writingcommons.org/genres-introduction. 05 October 2010
Lunsford, Andrea A. Naming What We Know:Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016 Pages 43 – 44
Hart-Davidson, Bill. Naming What We Know:Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016 Page 39
Hart-Davidson, Bill. Naming What We Know:Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies Utah State University Press, 2016 Page 40