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.
Insights into Pedagogic Genres
CARMEN SANCHO-GUINDA Variation in Students’ Accounts of Graphic Data: Context and Cotext Factors in a Polytechnic Setting 1. Introduction and aims: Why teach a flexible genre? The interpretation of visual data is a widespread practice across acade- mic and professional disciplines and genres. In earlier work (Sancho- Guinda 2011, 2012) I have reiterated the ubiquity and centrality of graphics to scientific thinking, essentially a multimodal process (Lynch/Woolgar 1988/1990, Myers 1997, 2003, Lemke 1998, Miller 1998, Kress et al. 2001, among others). These reasons, however, are not the only ones for teaching the commentary of visuals, because its hybridity, its hyper-textual nature and its value as argumentative stra- tegy also have considerable weight. Visual data accounts are hybrid in several respects. First and foremost, they straddle the academic and professional domains, and the discourse communities that use them are diverse. Second, they gather empirical information and subjective renderings, and to be suc- cessfully effected require some heuristic training together with a certain dose of creativity and a balance between the explicit and the implicit, often culture-bound meanings. Swales and Feak (1997) do in effect mention the reluctance of Asian students to explain graphics, for whom commenting on the ‘obvious’ might result in a face-threat- ening act by insulting the interlocutor’s intelligence. Graph interpretations have been described as ‘primitive hyper- texts’ (Lemke 1998) in the sense that their de-codification is non- linear (Johns 1998), because readers grasp concepts by moving back and forth from the verbal to the visual, just as they...
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