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Narratives in Academic and Professional Genres

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Maurizio Gotti and Carmen Sancho Guinda

This book received the Enrique Alcaraz Research Award in 2015.

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.

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CARMEN SANCHO GUINDA The Tell and Show of Aviation-Catastrophe Synopses - 385

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CARMEN SANCHO GUINDA The Tell and Show of Aviation-Catastrophe Synopses 1. Introduction: NTSB air-accident synopses as genre hybrids Our idea of abstracts and technical summaries is one of brevity and conciseness, with little or no room for embellishment. It evokes a combination of meta-reference usually pointing to some ‘study’, ‘problem’, ‘work’, ‘experiment’, ‘process’, or ‘case’, and an interplay of succinct description and condensed narrative to report on what happened and how – occasionally to predict what may happen in the future. According to this basic notion, aviation-accident synopses are expected to present a linear and impersonal narrative sequence of the events leading to catastrophe, to determine its causes, specify the methodology and research steps taken to detect them, and finally to list a series of recommendations. While these procedural expectations are dispassionately met by most safety agencies in the world,1 many of the texts issued by the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States (henceforth NTSB) adopt a surprising storytelling for- mat in which attribution plays a key role at the interpersonal and textual levels. That is, as a reporting device attribution is central to the construction of relationships between narrator and narratee and to the organisation of discourse, exerting narrative control through detail and a sort of ‘cinematic dynamics’ to create a strong impression of vera- city and reliability on readers. 1 For a contrast among aircraft-accident synopses from international transporta- tion agencies, boards, units, bureaus or directorates across continents, see . Carmen Sancho Guinda 386 In this chapter...

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