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Insights into Academic Genres

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Edited By Carol Berkenkotter, Vijay K. Bhatia and Maurizio Gotti

This volume presents the latest research of an international group of scholars, engaged in the analysis of academic discourse from a genre-oriented perspective. The area covered by this volume is a central one, as in the last few years important developments in research on academic discourse have not only concerned the more traditional genres, but, as well, generic innovations promoted by the new technologies, employed both in the presentation of research results and in their dissemination to a wider community by means of popularising and teaching activities.
These innovations have not only favoured important changes in existing genres and the creation of new ones to meet emerging needs of the academic community, but have also promoted a serious discussion about the construct of genre itself.
The various investigations gathered in this volume provide several examples of the complexity and flexibility of genres, which have shown to be subject to a continuous tension between stability and change as well as between convention and innovation.

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Theoretical Insights

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Presenting Research Insights CAROL BERKENKOTTER Genre Change in the Digital Age: Questions about Dynamism, Affordances, Evolution 1. Introduction Questions about how and why genres change have been around for some time in applied linguistics and writing studies (e.g., Hyland 2002; Bhatia 2004; Devitt 2004; Bawarshi/Reiff 2010); however, the advent of new media has invested such questions with new urgency. For example, are Internet blogs, chats, Facebook and Wikipedia new discursive phenomena, or are they recent incarnations of earlier genres in new medial attire? This question and others catalyze the debate among genre theorists and researchers – as do questions about how the affordances of Internet software facilitate copying, pasting, and hyper- linking, all techniques for endowing the digital ‘text’ with its new fluidity (Gitrow/Stein 2009), fluidity that turns conventional notions of text/context relationships on their head. In this chapter, I will be concerned with questions of genre variation as they apply to the blog (and the practice of blogging), as “a new form of scholarly interaction” (see Luzón, this volume), and a newcomer to the genre systems (Bazerman, 1994) of academic communication. 2. Genre change in the digital age Nowhere does our understanding of genre variation, i.e., the processes though which genres change, become more of a challenge than in the context of digital communication. Much has been written on Internet Carol Berkenkotter32 genres (see, for example, Crystal 2006, 2011; the essays in Giltrow/ Stein 2009; Russell/Fisher 2009; Myers 2010). Indeed, the issue of how Internet genres come into being...

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