Thoughts on genre, language, grammar, and other
rhetorical and linguistic norms
rhetorical and linguistic norms
I found a treat in my mailbox yesterday—a copy of KU Giving magazine from KU Endowment that includes a brief article on me! It’s a short regular feature called “What’s in your Briefcase,” and, even though I don’t carry a briefcase (I call it a work bag or tote), writer Emily Cox and her team were kind enough to feature me and this blog.
Since a few new readers might check it out, I thought I’d give an orientation to what has become a full archive of posts and highlight a few that other readers have let me know they especially liked. If you’re a long-time reader, thank you! And feel free to add suggestions of what you think others might enjoy reading.
I write about language and genre—the kinds of everyday reading and writing we all do and how they shape us and our worlds. A few posts explain the idea of genre, for those of you who want some overview of the idea. Check out the Psychology of Genre, one of my first posts, or Genre in two pictures, or Genre Matters (aka Using Genres to Make Hatred Normal)
I’ve been writing this blog seriously since May 2016, and I wrote weekly for two years (more sporadically after that), so there’s a lot to sort through. Here are a few ways:
I’ve written more than one article on some topics, and some have told me they’ve liked those. Here are a couple of ideas.
I’ve written 4 posts on good and bad apologies, starting with Harriet Lerner’s great work on what makes a good apology. It’s much easier to find examples of bad apologies, as I learned at my dentist’s office and watching public figures and businesses mess up saying “I’m sorry.” (Remember the United Airlines CEO after dragging a man off their plane? Now that was a bad apology.)
I wrote on what makes a good “thank you,” too, but that turns out to be much easier for people to do. Less humiliating, I imagine, to thank someone than to admit you screwed up.
I’ve written about lots of holidays over the years, from New Year’s to Christmas and all in between, including Veterans Day, Labor Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and even April Fools’ Day (where the genre requires us to lie!). I tried an audio blog for Halloween one year, if you want to hear my voice. My most recent holiday post, I think, and one I'm proud of is my post on Armistice Day
And Other Matters
As a teacher, I’ve written about the syllabus in a few ways, and you who are teachers or scholars might find other topics of interest (on the word "essay," "commencement"--or is it "graduation"?).
Since I also write about language and why genres matter, the blog has hit on lots of ways we live in our worlds through language and communication, especially how words matter. Some serious political and social topics following current events, but also laughing with Amy Schumer's sitcom parody or playing with Super Bowl ads.
But Wait, There’s More!
Since it is KU's story that prompted this post and it is March Madness time, I have to highlight my post on how I watch KU men’s basketball games through both my fanaticism and my genre-colored glasses. I ran through over 20 genres that make up my own watch party crowd’s way of watching KU play in 2018.
So that’s enough for now. If you'd like me to email you whenever I post something new, please feel free to sign up for my newsletter (see it in the sidebar).
I hope you can find something to spark your interest or show you old habits in new ways. Thank you for reading today
I had a nice surprise this morning, and another one last week.
This morning, a newsletter appeared from the provost's office in my university that featured "Faculty in their Prime." I was one of them! I was surprised to be included at all among such great colleagues (I didn't know about it ahead of time). I was also surprised both by the "prime" part and by the bio featuring my blog! It was great to see this public adventure of mine receiving attention instead of the usual list of my scholarly works. Thank you!
The other nice surprise this past week was the arrival of actual physical copies of my most recent book, Landmark Essays on Rhetorical Genre Studies, co-edited with my colleague and friend Carolyn Miller. I had known that Routledge had published it on their website, but I hadn't seen the actual book, and somehow that physical copy made it real. Thank you to Routledge!
So in recognition of my two nice surprises this week, I want to point folks to some of my blog posts that might help them see why I find genre so fascinating. After all, I've been writing this thing weekly over two years now, and there's a lot of stuff to sort through over in the Previous Posts and Archives lists. And most people don't think of genre the way I (and others in my field) do--as the ways we get things done in the world, as expectations about how to act, not just what forms to use. As things that can show us ourselves and our communities.
After I'd hit my two years (plus some) anniversary last August, I wrote a post about how my blog came to be, and it references lots of the topics I write about and some of my favorite posts: How to Birth A Blog It would be a good one to start with, if you're interested.
An overview post explains how I see genre in two pictures. To play with a particular genre we use all the time, I wrote a series on how to make a good (and bad) apology. I still use the practical advice in that one to make my apologies meaningful. Teachers and students tell me they like the series I did on the syllabus as a genre. Turns out the syllabus reveals a lot about our roles and expectations.
On a more disheartening note, I've written about how genres, with their usual ways of getting things done, can make things seem normal that we could and should be challenging. One I wrote about was the normalizing of a Nazi sympathizer through a New York Times profile on him.
But the normal ways of doing things can vary, too. Recently, I wrote about how Aretha Franklin's funeral and John McCain's funeral were so different from one another, even as they were both recognizably funerals.
I hope you might have some time to browse around in the blog. I talk a lot about how Words Matter, too. Maybe as you browse, you'll find a nice surprise yourself, something that makes you laugh or think. If you do, I hope you'll let me know.
And my thanks again for two nice surprises this past week. May your week bring you your own nice surprise.