Prompt: In the last unit, you explored and perhaps uncovered certain practices that are either part of your existing writing processes or ones that you would like to incorporate into it. In this unit, you were introduced to another important academic literacy practice–analyzing genres. I made the case that one key step in becoming an effective writer is understanding what to do when you are asked to produce a text in a form that is completely unfamiliar to you.
In this last writing project, I will ask you to identify and consider the genres that are personally challenging—genres you are not particularly familiar with, that may intimidate you, or that you tend to avoid. From these, I would like you to select one genre that you have either never had the opportunity to write in or had mostly negative experiences writing in–but would like to learn more about.
This project asks you to critically investigate, read, and analyze a genre that is personally challenging. It has several purposes: to engage you in critical reading, to learn to analyze genres, and to investigate the role of genre in mediating activity and fostering identity.
What will you write about?
Topic: For this assignment, you will list, describe, and analyze the rhetorical moves (linguistic features) that writers typically make when creating the genre you have chosen. To do this, you will collect at least 5 samples of that genre and discuss how the rhetorical moves/linguistic features you have identified helps the genre function in its intended way and serve the people who use it. The main question your analysis should address is this: Why does the genre take the shape(s) that it does in light of what the people who are using it are trying to accomplish with it?
Keep in mind that genres are created as acts of communication that mediate, or set in motion, activity. The observed patterns of the genre are both meaningful and purposeful. As a result, your analysis should clearly explain why, how, and to what end the functions of your chosen genres serve the purposes of its members.
What will you write?
In high school or in ENG101, there’s a pretty good chance that your instructor asked you to write a rhetorical analysis. You might have been asked to analyze and discuss the extent to which the author implemented any one of the following rhetorical appeals: ethos, logos, and pathos. Many of you might have also been asked to include a discussion of the rhetorical situation after describing the artifact.
For this writing project, I am looking to build on your existing genre knowledge of a rhetorical analysis, to produce a genre analysis that also has the following sections:
An introduction that includes the prompt’s main question, introduces and explains the genre under examination, and briefly alludes to the most interesting insights of your analysis.
A visual representation of the genre–an image of the text/genre you have chosen
Discussion on:
focus your analysis on the rhetorical moves/linguistic features across the five genres and discuss how these help the genre account for the following:
Setting: In what context or medium does the genre appear? With what other genres does it interact?
Subject: What topics are common to this genre? What kind of information is typically contained in this genre?
Participants: Who writes and reads texts in this genre? What roles do writers and readers perform? What attributes must writers and readers possess? Under what circumstances do they write and read the genre (e.g., in teams, in waiting rooms, on a computer, in a rush, etc.)?
Exigencies: When is the genre used? What purposes does the genre fulfill for the people who use it? What is its accepted social function?
variation of rhetorical moves
and why the writer did it/strayed from “typical move”? Intended effect on the reader? What was writer risking?
Table–labeled and captioned–depicting commonalities/variations across 5 genre samples (see sample below from Jacobson et al.’s article)
Conclusion that summarizes insights gained through analysis and presents reader with implications for conducting genre analysis/application and benefits in future sites, rhetorical situations
Who will you write for?
Audience: Your primary audience will be your instructor. In light of this primary audience, it is important for you to ask yourself the following questions:
What does my instructor privilege as characteristics of good writing for this assignment?
Will adherence to the conventions of Standard English be heavily enforced?
Does the depth and quality of the analysis be the primary standard by which my grade will be evaluated?
How will you write?
What I’m asking you to consider and do for this writing assignment is two-fold:
1. Select your genre:
choose one that you can collect 5 different instances or examples of
choose one that is relatively short (no more than 5 pages preferably)
choose one where different examples of it show differences (i.e., no two resumes look exactly the same)
choose one that isn’t too broad–social media as a genre would be too broad. A more specific example would be a Facebook post. And be especially specific if you want to analyze an “essay”; there are many sub-genres (personal narrative, persuasive, argumentative, …).
2. Specifically, focus your analysis on the rhetorical moves/linguistic features of your chosen genre
Engage in an academic “conversation” with the readings from the module
Integrate text (direct quotes and/or paraphrases) from at least TWO sources
Establish and maintain a candid yet academic tone (write in first person but don’t get too casual)
Insightful, thorough, cohesive analysis and reflection
Clear organizational structure/use of transitions
1000-1100 words
Correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and language use
Adhere to MLA format; include a Works Cited page–see Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) for all things MLA
Saving Format: Save your document as .doc or .docx and use the following naming convention: First Initial Last Name_WP3 (if your name was Trevor Smith, you would save your document as TSmith_WP3)

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