Chapter 3: Why is Genre Important?

Genre and Modality

The word author refers to the people who make the texts. It is dependent on the rhetorical situation for a text, but it is also dependent on the genre of the project. Sometimes the authorship will be clear, but other times it may require an informed guess, which is true for visual advertisements for example. Genre is an expectation that the audience generates from a type of text. They aren’t static categories. They are easily malleable depending on the context, culture, and time period they are being viewed. Genres may include subgenres or groups of similar genres that all fall under the same category.

Static genres are typically associated with analog representations like posters, brochures, or any text that can be read as a singular object in a single glance. Dynamic genres, however, change and are timeline-based and require user interaction. In most cases, dynamic genres have some sort of digital component, but paper texts can be dynamic, such as pop up books. As time continues, the characterization of a genre will change.

Written texts tend to follow a linear organization such that one word follows the other to develop meaning. Nonlinear structures that creat flash-forwards and flashbacks create a dynamic dimension to an otherwise linear text. In order to make sense of the meaning of a nonlinear text, the audience must interact with it. Representation is the reinforcement of the purpose by guiding metaphors created via multimodal elements. Association uses an idea or concept related to the main purpose and uses a portion of it to stand for a whole.

Genre analysis is meant to help readers and potential readers understand how the presentation of information maximizes the perception of the content and form of the text. The two should be closely related, especially amongst a single genre. The texts within that genre may have conventions that are common, providing identifiable elements. Common questions to consider include: (1) How is the text written and designed? (2)How are the multimodal elements organized in the text? or (3) How might you define the genre or subgenres of the text?

While doing some reader, one may find a text with an unclear genre. The first thing to do is to determine what genres it resembles. It may be the start of a new genre or a subgenre of an existent one.