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Insights into Academic Genres

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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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DAVIDE S. GIANNONI Value Marking in an Academic Genre: When Authors Signal ‘Goodness’1 1. Introduction Evaluation is a key component of the knowledge-production process encoded by academic writing, whose genres provide textual evidence of the epistemology, ideology and social ontology of different discourse communities (Berkenkotter/Huckin 1993). By signalling what is deemed to be desirable (or conversely, undesirable) in the field, scholars build up their arguments, position themselves vis-à-vis their peers and identify unsolved disciplinary issues. While the linguistic resources of evaluation have been widely explored (cf. Hunston/Thompson 2000; Del Lungo Camiciotti/Tognini Bonelli 2004; Dossena/Jucker 2007), only a few authors have turned their attention to the actual values underlying this phenomenon. In the case of academic discourse, evaluation points to the axiology of scientific enquiry, to what counts as ‘worthiness’ (cf. Thetela 1997) among fellow scholars, and accordingly its realisations employ the ‘lexis of judgement and subjectivity’ (Thompson/Hunston 2000). The main function of evaluative speech acts is to communicate attitudinal stance (Conrad/Biber 2000), i.e. the speaker’s feelings or judgements about a proposition. In so doing, they generally operate within a conceptual framework construing “experiences in context on binary scales between positive and negative” (Downes 2000: 104). As aptly observed by Shaw (2004), however, their semantic transparency 1 The findings reported here are part of a larger cross-disciplinary study of academic value markers (Giannoni 2010). I am grateful to the editors and to participants at the CERLIS Conference, Bergamo 23-25 June 2011, for their helpful comments. Davide S. Giannoni 70 varies...

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