History of a Genre: Analyzing Genre Conventions as they Change over Time
Writing strategies were working on here:
Defining the parameters of a genre, and analyzing the ways in which its conventions change in different contexts (over time, and in different places)
Identifying sources, reading them critically, and using them to support your ideas
Identifying and analyzing the audiences and expectations of academic disciplines
Using academic sources, and writing for an audience in a particular academic
Readings for this assignment:
Carroll, Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis
Rosenberg, Reading Games: Strategies for Reading Scholarly Sources
Dirk, Navigating Genres (revisit)
In WP1, we started to think about the ways in which genres are adapted to suit different purposes and meet the needs and expectations of different audiences. In your writing project you looked at texts from two different genres focusing on a single topic. In WP2, youre going to start to look at this idea over time, and possibly across different cultural sites. Genres have the conventions that they do the contents, structures, organizations, styles, and mechanics because they are situated in a specific context and are meant to convey particular things to different audiences. Analyzing two examples of a genre over a period of time, then, can help us understand how genres change and provide some insight into why they do. This understanding, in turn, can contribute to the ability to look at genres in specific contexts. How did this genre change over time? In what ways did it stay similar? Why? What do the changes to the genre indicate about the changes in the community of historians and high school educators?
Choose at least two (and up to four) examples of the same genre that focus on a similar idea/theme from two different time periods. These should:
a) Focus on a similar topic. It could be a topic that is the subject of your possible major or minor, or something that circulates in another context that is of interest to you and about which you already know something. Key here: choose something that is of interest to you! Note that this must be something different from the topic/genres you researched and discussed for WP1.
b) Have been created/developed/published at least ten years apart from each other. Of course, you will want to make sure that there are significant differences between these two things, lest you not have a great deal to say about them. I would suggest choosing texts created during your lifetime or from two time periods about which you know something (in other words, dont choose an example from the early 20th century unless you know something, from previous classes or your own interests, about that period).
Once youve located these materials, you will conduct an analysis of them drawing on the readings for this assignment (Dirk, Carroll, Rosenberg). Ultimately, your WP should address the question: What does the analysis of these two to four forms of the genre show about how the genre has changed over time? Your response to this question, supported by evidence from the readings and from your analysis of the genres, should comprise the majority of the WP. In other words, you are constructing a history of the genre through these forms; that history should have a beginning and end and should tell a story about both the genre and its context. You should also address (in less space) the following question: given what you know about the audience(s), purpose(s), and context(s) for these genres from your experience and/or prior research, why might the changes in these genres have been made? Here, you should avoid baseless speculation really try to draw on specific analyses of purposes, audiences, and contexts.