Genre Traces: How We Define, Recognize, and Hide Genres – University of Copenhagen

Genre Traces: How We Define, Recognize, and Hide Genres

Guest Lecture by Professor Amy Devitt, The University of Kansas, arranged by the project Understanding threats: Language and genre.

For more than thirty years, genre scholars have recognized genres as more than sets of formal conventions. Rather, genres capture actions people perform in their worlds in ways that communities shape and that shape communities. Yet those formal conventions remain meaningful, as genre actions are reflected in their linguistic and textual forms, leaving visible traces.

In this talk, I will focus on those traces of genres: How do we know genres exist? What linguistic and textual traces make them visible? How do genre-users identify genres? Using my own research into the language practices of tax accountants, college students, and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Scots writers, I will briefly offer evidence for the effects of genre on both perception and linguistic form.

Finally, using my study of jury instructions in the United States court system, I will turn to genres less visible, ones that affect people’s actions – for good or ill – but are most often hidden from view.