Let's talk about genres for a minute here. Marcy says, responding to Philippa's argument that
"the constraints on school writing (even informal writing-to-learn activities) are just as
strong and "real" (sorry, couldn't resist!) as on workplace writing activities,"
> Yes, but workplace texts all *do* something besides allow
> their writers to learn.
She goes on that the examples Jamie gave -
> -- "recommendation reports, proposals, contracts,
> pharmaceutical trial documentation, briefing notes, policies,
> "outlook" reports, and RFPs" -- are all texts whose primary
> purpose is, er, dialogic -- they're going to someone (several
> someones) who are going to DO something (make further
> recommendations, devise policies, take certain actions) based
> on their contents. This is what I meant by constrained; the
> situations in which those texts are produced constrain the
> format, and also, to some extent, the findings.
In this sense, no text is ever unconstrained: it's just that the kinds of texts we think of as
characterizing school learning don't "usually DO anything in that sense."
What I'm intrigued by are the examples in Marcy's (and Jamie's) postings -- those above, and,
as examples of school texts, "freewriting, essay tests, term papers." The question that the
iteration of examples raises for me is, are there _generic_ patterns here? What kinds of
recurrent rhetorical exigencies characterize classrooms, Jamie's bank, Anthony's social work
agency, Pete Medway's architecture firm . . . ? We keep (I keep) talking about texts as though
they _existed_ in some kind of New Critical bell jar, but really they're always embedded in,
shaped and constrained and sustained by, rhetorical / social situations. The situations
constrain the production (natch). But the situations also afford learning in various ways, and
of various kinds. Is there a language for characterizing _those_ differences here?
St. Thomas University
To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to