Genre Theory Annotated Bibliography

  • Artemeva, N.  (2008). A time to speak, a time to act: A rhetorical genre analysis of a novice engineer’s calculated risk taking. In N. Artemeva and A. Freedman (Eds.), Rhetorical Genre Studies and beyond (pp. 189-240). Winnipeg, Manitoba: Inkshed.
    This study describes how a novice engineer applied what he learned in an engineering communication class about genres to a workplace situation. He used this understanding to analyze the shortcomings of a presentational genre used in his company and delivered his presentation in a different more innovative genre that addressed the rhetorical situation more effectively.
  • Bakhtin, M.M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. E. Emerson & M. Holquist (Eds.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
    Bakhtin develops a theory of speech genres and speech communication that moves away from abstract linguistic categories. His basic unit of speech – the utterance -can be a form of speech genre as it carries in it the speaker’s past experience with similar situations, words with their cumulative meanings of past usages as well as the speaker’s speech plan adjusted to her expectations of the addressee’s response. Thus speech genres are both, rooted in the past and changeable to fit a present situation.
  • Bazerman, C. (1988). Shaping written knowledge: the genre and activity of the experimental article in science. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
    In this historical overview of the genre of scientific articles, Bazerman situates the development of this genre in connection with social and technological forces of the time. The scientific article is shown as responding to rhetorical situations and needs arising from the empirical activity of scientific research.
  • Freadman, A. (1994). Anyone for tennis? In A. Freedman & P. Medway (Eds.), Genre and the new rhetoric (pp. 43-66). London: Taylor and Francis.
    Using the analogy of a tennis game, Freadman introduces the notion of uptake into genre theory. She illustrates how genres are situated in larger social contexts, which she calls “ceremonials” and play out their potentials on the level of text where each textual element builds upon the uptake of a previous one to fulfill its objective.
  • Miller, C.R. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech 70, 151-167.
    In this seminal article, Miller posits the need for a stable, rhetorically sound concept of genre theory. She states the definition of genre must be focused on the action it is used to accomplish. Her definition of genre as social action sets the stage for the direction in which Rhetorical Genre Studies has moved in research and pedagogy.
  • Orlikowski, W., & Yates, J. (1994). Genre repertoire: the structuring of communicative practices in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly 39(4). 542-574. Retrieved July 26, 2011 from
    This article focuses on the process in which people belonging to the same workplace have developed a genre repertoire of four genres using electronic communication methods. The authors state that while a genre repertoire is not stable as it can be adjusted to changing situations just as genres can; it provides a valuable framework for the description of organizational communication practices.
  • Schryer, C., F. (1993) Records as genre. Written Communication, 10, 200-234.
    Through an ethnographic study of genre use in a veterinary college, this article reconceptualizes genre in a dialogic way based on its findings that certain genres in this context espouse certain literacy abilities and are both stable and dynamic at the same time. The concept of genres as “stabilized-for-now” is defined in this article as an inherent connection to past situations and adaptability to new ones.
  • Smart, G. & Brown, N. (2008). Developing a “discursive gaze”: Participatory action research with student interns encountering new genres in the activity of the workplace. In N. Artemeva and A. Freedman (Eds.), Rhetorical Genre Studies and beyond (pp. 241- 282). Winnipeg, Manitoba: Inkshed.
    This study focuses on the role of genre theory in making knowledge transfer more effective between school and the workplace. The authors argue that involving students in participatory action research and increasing their activity-based genre knowledge will provide students with a heuristic that can lead to faster and more effective acquisition of workplace genres.
  • Wahl. S. (2003) Learning at work: The role of Technical Communication in organizational learning. Technical Communication, 50(2), 247-258.
    This article describes the role that the genre of costumer documentation plays in a mid-size technological organization in the creation, dissemination, and use of technical and product knowledge. In particular, the article argues that a genre such as customer documentation can serve as a basis for building a company-wide knowledge management system, and technical communicators writing in such a genre can lead the effort to build these systems.