Academic (Inter)genres: between Texts, Contexts and Identities

by Anna Duszak (Volume editor) Grzegorz Kowalski (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 229 Pages


The volume takes a close look at discourse perspectives on academic genres. In the context of scientific communication and the evolution of postmodern culture and society, academic genres have undergone various changes. The study shows that cultural heterogeneity of academic genres, styles and discourses now gives way to an increasing hybridization and discusses theoretical aspects of this process. The second part focuses on specific dimensions of hybridization, in particular between global and local academic genres and discourses, and between real and virtual ones.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Academic (inter)genres: definitions, approaches, contexts
  • Scientific models of text space stratification: Conceptualization and relations between modelling categories
  • Scholarship, discourse on scholarship, scholarly discourse
  • Limits of scientific discourse
  • Recontextualizing science and society in EU legislative discourse
  • Can one write a scholarly paper in a form of poem? Genre changes in academic writing over history
  • How much ‘situated’ are situated genre practices? A few reflections on the nature of genres in the contemporary public space
  • Part II. Academic (inter)genres: global vs local, real vs virtual
  • Dialogicity and continuity in academic discourse (as demonstrated by the festschrift genre)
  • The reader’s report in the pre-publication reviewing process as a genre in communication
  • Academic identities: Individual and collective ‘selves’.
  • The academic weblog as a social networking genre
  • Audiovisual scientific text for self-directed Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).


This volume brings together a variety of discourse perspectives on academic genres and offers insights into the complex interplay between academic texts, the context of scholarly communication and the more general background of community, society and culture. A key point shared by both the editors and the authors of the respective papers is that academic genres are now subject to the impact of other genres, styles, discourses and practices, which were previously distant and disconnected, but are now more and more interwoven and mutually (or not?) responsive. Consequently, there may now be reasons to speak about academic (inter)genres, a concept which emphasizes their currently observed formal and functional fuzziness.

The question of academic genres’ fuzziness, which emerges as a recurrent theme in the papers collected in this volume, can be approached from a number of analytical angles. On the one hand, discourse theorists refer to terminological essentials, pointing out that ambivalent borderlines between genres and discourses are intrinsic to the more fundamental problem of the diversity of definitions proposed for the concepts proper. Yet this status quo seems to be given tacit consent; any attempt to institutionally sanction one definition of genre or one definition of discourse, on which basis scholars in an academic community can determine the boundaries in the repertoires of its genres and discourse, is bound to further divide any such community rather than consolidate it.

Another line of inquiry followed by the contributors to the present anthology concerns the hybridization of academic genres and discourses. It is generally acknowledged that in the post-modern context science can no longer act as an ivory tower, an image that has been traditionally associated with the fundamental freedoms which science enjoys in a democratic society, in particular: freedom of expression, freedom to choose ontological and epistemological models, freedom to choose the subject of research, freedom of communication and cooperation, and freedom of association. However, what was once considered an inalienable right of science is now often perceived as a handicap, and critically addressed – by academics and outsiders alike – in terms of science’s alienation from social context. The transformation of ivory tower science into socially-sensitive science is now evident, and so is the widespread influence of non-scientific discourses (e.g. political, marketing, business) and genres (e.g. journalistic) on scientific ones. The key role of new technologies as stimuli and vectors of this transition seems to be evident. ← 9 | 10 →

Finally, the emergence of academic intergenres and hybrid discourses can be analyzed as an effect of expanding intercultural communication and scholars’ mobility, which have contributed to the transition from a once predominantly local (national) context of scholarly activity to the global one. As a result, cultural heterogeneity of academic genres, styles and discourses, which has been strongly supported in linguistic literature of the 1980s and 1990s (e.g. Clyne 1987; Swales 1990; Connor 1996; Grabe and Kaplan 1996; Ventola and Mauranen 1996; Duszak ed. 1997), can no longer be taken for granted (cf. critical voices in e.g. Fløttum et al. 2006; Fløttum ed. 2007; Hyland 2009, 2012; Kowalski 2015). The reason is that once evident boundaries between culture-specific conventions may now be dissolved and in turn global academic (inter)genres, styles and discourses can emerge. This phenomenon also applies to the continental-European tradition, represented by the contributors to this volume.

The volume is divided into two parts. The first, Academic (inter)genres: definitions, approaches, contexts, addresses theoretical issues, in particular in terms of the applicability of earlier definitions of genre, text type or academic style to related phenomena unfolding in the context of global scientific community.

In the opening paper “Scientific models of text space stratification: Conceptualization and relations between modelling categories” Bożena Witosz critically addresses traditional vertical models of interpersonal communication, based on hierarchical dependencies between text, genre and discourse. Emphasizing the complex interplay between these elements, the author argues that discourse and genre should be conceptualized horizontally, the representation of which duly accounts for their complex reciprocal influences.

The revision of concepts fundamental to an analysis of academic communication is also the topic of Stanisław Gajda’s paper “Scholarship, discourse on scholarship, scholarly discourse”. According to the author, metadiscursive reflections on the essence of academic communication must be preceded with a more general consideration of the transformation of context. The latter should be treated holistically, in terms of what Gajda refers to as “intellectual ambience”, including the entirety of ontological, epistemological, axiological and praxeological aspects of scholarly activity.

Definitional issues are also discussed by Małgorzata Rzeszutko-Iwan in “Limits of scientific discourse”. Taking as a point of reference a number of approaches to the concept of discourse, in particular those highlighting the relevance of social and cultural conditions (e.g. Labocha and Fleischer in the Polish humanities, Maingueneau and Charaudeau from the French School of Discourse Analysis), the author concludes that discourse does, and will, escape strict definitions. While ← 10 | 11 → certain limits may be identified at the biological level of discourse, the two other dimensions distinguished by Rzeszutko-Iwan, cognitive and technological, constantly evolve and thus expand the limits of discourse. This argument is discussed in detail in relation to the predominantly interdisciplinary and multi-paradigmatic context of contemporary sciences and humanities.

The current hybridization of discourses of once distinctive domains is the topic of the paper “Recontextualizing science and society in EU legislative discourse” by Grzegorz Kowalski. The author examines historical changes in the conceptualization of science and society in EU legislation, in particular Euratom, EEC and EC decisions and resolutions adopting the successive framework programmes for research, technological development and demonstration activities. On the one hand, it is shown how the changing political and economic agenda of Community policy of the 1980s, 1990s and the 2000 decade have influenced policymakers’ representations of the said concepts. On the other hand, the author argues that these different approaches also reflect ideologies consistent with certain sociological models of science in post-modern society (e.g. scientism, technocapitalism, Mode 2 science and science in the risk society).

In contrast, Dawid Lipiński focuses on the formal aspects of hybridization of scientific genres (“Can one write a scholarly paper in a form of poem? Genre changes in academic writing over history”). The author argues that the evolution of modern genres of academic writing has its origins within philosophical treatise known in Antiquity. While other genres of the time – in particular dialogue and the didactic poem – have long since been shifted to periphery, it is shown that their elements can now reappear in contemporary research papers.

The last paper in Part I of the volume is Piotr Cap’s “How much ‘situated’ are situated genre practices? A few reflections on the nature of genres in the contemporary public space”, which critically addresses the diversity of definitions of genre. The key problem of limited adaptability of mainstream genre theory to account for the dynamic character of genres in contemporary contexts of communication is further categorised into five essential areas, or controversies, as Cap puts it: (1) genres as abstractions; (2) genres and situational contexts; (3) genres as flexible macrostructures; (4) genre relations in a social field; (5) genres and interpersonal roles.

The second part of the volume, Academic (inter)genres: global vs local, real vs virtual, focuses on the interaction between local and global influences on the evolution of academic (inter)genres on the one hand, and the increasing role of the virtual context of academic communication on the other. The papers refer to a wide spectrum of cultural and academic contexts, representing how local (national) and disciplinary discourse conventions become hybridized in the process of globalization. ← 11 | 12 →

Part II begins with a paper by Jana Hoffmannová, “Dialogicity and continuity in academic discourse (as demonstrated by the festschrift genre)”. An analysis of several Czech and Slovak festschrifts in the field of linguistics focuses on their intertextuality and interactionality. In the former case, festschrift is shown to be embedded in a complex network of references to public and personal texts, ranging from citations of commonly known works to concealed allusions to events familiar only to the author and the honoree. As for intertextuality, festschrift is presented as a genre co-constructed by several actors: the author, the editor, the honoree, the reader and other members of scientific community.

Interactionality and intertextuality are also the topics of Kamila Mrázková’s paper “The reader’s report in the pre-publication reviewing process as a genre in communication”. The author examines the genre of peer-review assessment as an act of communication involving the reviewer, the author and the editor. Emphasis is also given on the transformation of the genre in the context of global scientific activity, in particular in terms of the adoption of pre-formatted templates for evaluation. This change is discussed against the long-established conventions of academic writing in the Czech Republic, and more generally in Central Europe.

In her paper “Academic identities: Individual and collective ‘selves’” Iga Maria Lehman focuses on academic identity and the impact of local vs global tensions on its development. Referring to a variety of theoretical perspectives, originally presented by e.g. Fairclough, Grucza, Halliday or Ivanič, the author develops a framework for analysis of academic identity along the axis of individual-collective. It is shown, however, that this basic continuum entails a number of related dimensions, which are then synthesized in a multi-aspectual model of academic identity.

The next two papers emphasize the relevance of the virtual academic community for co-construction of scientific knowledge and its dissemination. In her study “The academic weblog as a social networking genre” Małgorzata Sokół argues that widespread academic communication on the internet (e.g. via weblogs, social networking portals, discipline-related fora etc.) has far-reaching consequences for scholarly discourse practices. As a result, Web-mediated academic communication may be described in terms of Science 2.0, of which one important feature is the interactive co-construction of scientific knowledge, as Sokół’s analysis of scientific blogs shows.

The advantages of social networking are also recognized in educational settings, as Elżbieta Gajek and Agnieszka Szarkowska discuss in their paper “Audiovisual scientific text for self-directed Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)”. The global popularity of educational platforms like ClipFlair provides new didactic opportunities to students in a virtual context, but at the ← 12 | 13 → same time entails challenges to the traditional classroom education. Referring to the hybridization of institutionalized and online education, the authors suggest some questions related to this phenomenon for further consideration.

We hope that contributions to this volume will inspire further research in the field of academic and scientific discourse analysis, in particular in terms of the local vs global tensions in scholarly communication, genre evolution and identity negotiation.

Anna Duszak

Grzegorz Kowalski

Warsaw, January 2015


Clyne, M. “Cultural differences in the organization of academic texts”, Journal of Pragmatics 11: 211–247. 1987.

Connor, U. Contrastive Rhetoric: Cross-Cultural Aspects of Second-Language Writing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1996.

Duszak, A. (ed.) Cultures and styles in academic discourse, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 1997.

Fløttum, K. (ed.) Language and discipline perspectives on academic discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2007.

Fløttum, K., T. Dahl and T. Kinn Academic voices: Across languages and disciplines, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 2006.

Grabe, W. and R. B. Kaplan Theory and practice of writing: An applied linguistic perspective, London: Longman. 1996.

Hyland, K. Academic discourse, London: Continuum. 2009.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (June)
academic and scientific communication discourse analysis genre analysis stylistics
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 229 pp.

Biographical notes

Anna Duszak (Volume editor) Grzegorz Kowalski (Volume editor)

Anna Duszak is Professor of Linguistics and Head of the Institute of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warsaw. Her research interests include discourse analysis, academic and scientific discourse analysis. Grzegorz Kowalski is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. He is interested in academic and scientific discourse analysis and corpus linguistics, critical linguistics and systemic-functional linguistics.


Title: Academic (Inter)genres: between Texts, Contexts and Identities
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