Informal Text #1

I’m working on a English question and need guidance to help me study.

Informal Text #1

Read: Tonight, you’ll read pages 309-319 of Charles Bazerman’s “Speech Acts, Genres, and Activity Systems: How Texts Organize Activity and People,” stopping just before the section titled “Methodological Issues.” In this text, you will get a slightly different Bazerman than in the brief snippet we read from “Genre and Identity: Citizenship in the Age of the Internet and the Age of Global Capitalism” (if you haven’t read this, it might help!). In the text you read tonight, Bazerman is slightly more technical, and offers up numerous definitions of key terms that you will become familiar with in your own ways over the semester. In fact, I suggest at this point in the semester that you keep a log of key terms that are important, along with their definitions. This could be something you return to as you develop more nuanced understandings of particular terms.

To guide your first reading of this text, I suggest that you pay attention to the ways that Bazerman bases his arguments on the importance of TEXTS doing things, and making social worlds and social organization possible. Secondly, I suggest that you pay attention to the slow build of concepts: Bazerman works his way up to genre (and genre sets and systems) by building a “scaffold” for his readers, starting with social facts, moving to speech acts (and the three-leveled analysis) and then finally to typification and genres (which in different ways are the focus of our course). There’s a reason he does this: all these terms function with each other for our thinking about genre. My last bit of advice is that you pay attention to his examples. Bazerman offers many extended examples of textual genres making our social lives “possible.” These can go a long way in helping you grapple with these concepts.

Write: When you are finished, I ask that you do some writing about Bazerman’s text. What seems most interesting to you about Bazerman’s text? What key terms are helping you work on an understanding of “genre”? Can you relate any of these key terms to an example from your everyday life and/or work?

Do not worry about whether or not you understand everything about this text the first time; these are things we work on together. Also, do not worry about whether you think your writing is good or bad, whether your “grammar” is good or bad, etc. – there is no such thing as good writing, only writing that is “good” in particular contexts. This is an exploratory bit of writing, and there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. I just ask that you read Bazerman’s text carefully, and engage with it in your writing. As we’ll do all semester, be sure to document your claims with evidence from Bazerman’s text (PAR component!). You can do this in the form of quotation, paraphrase, etc., and be sure that you’re giving the page number citation.

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