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Evolution in Genre

Emergence, Variation, Multimodality


Paola Evangelisti Allori, John Bateman and Vijay K. Bhatia

The notion of ‘genre’ has established itself as a key concept in many disciplines and fields as a means of describing social action and/or recurring patterns of form. Recent social and technological changes are driving the emergence of new genres, the evolution of traditional ones as well as variation within them. In this volume a range of approaches addressing the evolution of genre are presented. Many draw on corpus analysis of the lexicogrammatical features employed in the communicative artefacts addressed; several extend traditional corpus analysis to include non-linguistic or extra-linguistic features involved in multimodal communication. Connections with social theories are discussed, as is the notion of families or groups of genres co-existing within broader constellations. Genres are examined in detail for their linguistic and non-linguistic realisations and forms of expression across related genres and within the ‘same’ genre when subjected to differing social or medial constraints or possibilities. In all cases, we see how genre continues to function as an effective tool for following communication as it, its contexts of use, and its social functions evolve.
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Emerging Conventions in the Verbal Component of the ‘About’ Page of British University Websites: Luisa Caiazzo



Emerging Conventions in the Verbal Component of the ‘About’ Page of British University Websites


This chapter focuses on the verbal component of the ‘About’ page of British university websites, aiming at the identification of emerging conventions that characterize institutional communicative practices in the Web context. However, web genres are rather difficult to capture and to describe in their entirety because, as a new kind of document, they are much more unpredictable and individualized than paper documents. Moreover, they rely on technological potentialities that allow the inclusion of several semiotic codes, making them a fertile ground for a multimodal analysis (Kress / van Leeuwen 2006; Bateman 2008). A further issue to take into consideration is their hybrid nature; many organizations are simply moving existing documents to the new medium without experimenting with the potentialities it offers to communicate and interact in novel ways, as pointed out by Crowston / Williams (2000).

The heterogeneity of web documents is mirrored also in the way universities represent themselves in their websites. The ‘About’ pages studied in this chapter display a wide range of solutions, which include, at the two ends of the spectrum, cases in which the verbal component plays a leading role and cases in which information is mainly conveyed by pictures and navigation options. Recognised as a web genre in studies geared towards information retrieval and web genres classification (Santini 2008; Rhem et al 2008), the ‘About’ page has received little...

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