Through Narrative Theory, the book offers an engaging panorama of the construction of specialised discourses and practices within academia and diverse professional communities. Its chapters investigate genres from various fields, such as aircraft accident reports, clinical cases and other scientific observations, academic conferences, academic blogs, climate-change reports, university decision-making in public meetings, patients’ oral and written accounts of illness, corporate annual reports, journalistic obituaries, university websites, narratives of facts in legal cases, narrative processes in arbitration hearings, briefs, and witness examination accounts. In addition to exploring narration in this wide range of contexts, the volume uses narrative as a powerful tool to gain a methodological insight into professional and academic accounts, and thus it contributes to research into theoretical issues. Under the lens of Narratology, Discourse and Genre Analysis, fresh research windows are opened on the study of academic and professional interactions.
CHRISTINE FEAK Insights into the Academy: Narratives in and of Public Meetings of the University - 81
CHRISTINE FEAK Insights into the Academy: Narratives in and of Public Meetings of the University The narrative paradigm posits that humans are storytellers (Fisher 1984). By extension, individuals in institutions ranging from schools to businesses have this same proclivity (Rhodes/Brown 2005). In the case of institutions of higher education, we can say that they are multidiscursive storytelling organizations. Their identities are enacted through their stories and the academic genres through which the stories are told (Rhodes 2001). Many of these academic genres are di- rected at knowledge production and sharing; they are part of the genre network that has been the focus of much English for Specific Purposes (ESP) scholarship. This network, of course, includes familiar research genres such as proposals, research papers or conference presentations. Less researched, but no less familiar, however, are other genres of the academy that occupy much of our professional life. One such genre is the meeting, an event that occurs at all levels of the academy, from the department committee level to the highest levels of administration. The characterization of meetings as a genre (Orlikowski/Yates 1994) is reasonable when we consider that they are aimed at accom- plishing specific tasks (Jarzabkowski/Seidl 2008) through recurrent administrative acts that provide stability to the social system to which an organization or a group of individuals belong (Peck/Perri/Gulliver/ Towell 2004). Meetings can be described as a discursive construct governed by cultural codes or conventions governing multi-participant talk. They are episodic in that they have clear beginnings and endings,...
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