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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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Evolution in Genre: Emergence, Variation, Multimodality: John A. Bateman, Paola Evangelisti Allori, Vijay K. Bhatia



Evolution in Genre: Emergence, Variation, Multimodality


The notion of ‘genre’ has long established itself as a key concept in many disciplines and fields. And, as a key concept, it provides various methods of access to the phenomena it is used to describe. Current definitions and applications of genre show a collection of family resemblances that indicate well the kind of work that genre is called upon to perform. First, there is the strong relation to social action and kinds of social organisation that have been strongly promoted for genre (e.g., Miller 1984; Bhatia 1993). Second, there is the use of genre to refer to reoccurring patterns of form in any artefacts or behaviours being explored: members of any particular genre are commonly taken to exhibit certain regularities in terms of the kinds of communicative work that is done, the forms of expression that work takes on, and the particular sequences of communicative acts that required to realise the genre (Swales 1990; Bhatia 1993; Martin / Rose 2008; Lemke 2005). The importance of relating sequences of communicative actions to particular academic, professional and social contexts with the expectation that specific communicative goals and purposes will be achieved within these contexts is now uncontroversial. Using genre to organise research and empirical study so that the interplay between specific communicative situations and expressive forms can guide investigation has successfully demonstrated its utility time and again. Academic,...

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