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Jesse Pentz Professor Leslie Wolcott ENC 1102 11 April 2013 Genre Analysis In order to understand the importance

of genre and how it can be used to provide insight into a discourse community, one must first consider what defines a genre. According to Devitt, Genres develop, then, because they respond appropriately to situations that writers encounter repeatedly. In principle, that is, writers first respond in fitting ways and hence similarly to recurring situations; then, the similarities among those appropriate responses become established as generic conventions. It can then be said that, in short, genres are the form that arise from a repeated rhetorical situations. Using this knowledge we can examine several texts and, using their similarities to identify characteristics of the common genre, draw conclusions about the goals and attitudes held by the respective discourse community. The three articles we will be examining are Class Councils in Switzerland: Citizenship Education in Classroom Communities? by Corinne Wyss, Two Kinds of Political Awakening in the Civic Education Classroom by Andreas Petrik, and A Sceptical Look at the Quantitative Education Research in Civic and Citizenship Education by Bettina Zurstrassen. These articles, all retrieved from the Journal of Social Science Education, should provide us with an intimate look into the social science education discourse community. When examining genre, the content of the text holds less importance, if any compared to form. With this in mind, attention should first be directed towards the style and organization of the text. One feature of these texts that becomes immediately obvious is the repeated use of graphics to illustrate a point. In the articles written by Wyss and Petrik, tables and charts are used both for the purpose of justifying claims with data as well as to illustrate teaching strategies. In both cases the figures include easy to interpret graphics, which separate the genre from more strict, scholarly texts. It can be assumed then that the audiences of these texts are not less serious about their subject matter, yet less formal in the presentation. Rather, the author seems to put emphasis on clarity and understandability of the material.

One structural similarity that I noted was the use of numbered sections to divide the documents by topic. All three texts used numbers as well as titles, and one text went as far as to use subsections. I believe this feature makes the longer texts easier to understand, which also contributes to the documents being very easy to read and understand. Another feature of the genre that also seems to emphasize this dominating characteristic of readability is simply the way the text is written. Not ridden with jargon like journal articles taken from some other fields, these articles use commonly understood vocabulary. This is not to say that a specialized lexis does not become apparent, but rather that lexis is normal enough to be read by individuals outside the discourse community. I feel as though this speaks about the relatively loose structure of the social science education discourse community, probably due to the wide variety of fields included as social science. When analyzing a group of texts, it is crucial to identify the perspective audience. In this case the audience is clearly teachers of any of the many fields included in the group of social sciences. This may shed some light on the language used in these texts. While certainly very scholarly, a reoccurring theme is that these texts are made to be easy to read without an excessive amount of specialized prior knowledge. This, I believe, is due to both the wide audience, as well as the varying levels of education of the audience. Education programs vary tremendously in content and even certifications from state to state lack the consistency of other fields, such as medicine. Modern education is hardly a coordinated effort, so the texts must be easy to interpret by individuals with a diverse educational background. After examining various features of these texts and establishing characteristics of the genre I can conclude that one of the primary features of these texts was a well structured, jargon free style that used diagrams to supplement the text. This, I believe, is due to both the diversity of the educational community as well as the variety of topics covered under the title social science. Though only one of many aspects that could be scrutinized, I believe it is essential in understanding the social science education discourse community.

Works Cited DevittSource, Amy J. "Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept." College Composition and Communication 44.4 (1993): 573-86. Web. Petrik, Andreas. "Two Kinds of Political Awakening in the Civic Education Classroom." Journal of Social Science Education 9.2 (2010): 52-67. JSSE. Web. 11 Feb. 2013. Wyss, Corinne, and Alexander Loetscher. "Class Councils in Switzerland: Citizenship Education in Classroom Communities?" Journal of Social Science Education 11.3 (2012): 44-64. JSSE. Web. 11 Feb. 2013. Zurstrassen, Bettina. "A Sceptical Look at the Quantitative Education Research in Civic and Citizenship Education." Journal of Social Science Education 10.3 (2011): 6-15. JSSE. Web.