English for Specific Playfulness? How doctoral students find fun in the development of genre knowledge, authorial voice, and genre innovation
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2019
The power of genre analysis to foster graduate students' awareness of genre convention and context-related variation (Cheng, 2018) is well established. Nonetheless, concerns remain that the approach risks promoting rhetorical 'painting by numbers', in which writers glumly surrender their creativity and authorial voice to the demands of their genre. Thus, recent reappraisals of genre pedagogy encourage fostering innovation, play and challenge to convention in academic writing (e.g. Tardy, 2016). In this paper, we show that ESP-based pedagogy can promote a sense of playfulness with genre, or at the very least, some pleasure in the enhanced sense of control over genre convention. Data is derived from interviews with 24 doctoral students in the hard sciences over a two-year period. Transcripts were analysed using a cross-comparative method to extract comments indexing enjoyment, fun, and deliberate author choices that challenge convention. The findings reveal students' appreciation of the sense of control derived from knowledge of typical rhetorical structures and recurrent linguistic forms, which affords them both confidence in their writing and an appreciation of the variation found within genres. Further, students reported making rhetorical choices based on their own stylistic preferences, a desire to engage their readers, the "fun" derived from experimentation, and the creation of a personal voice. Crucially, the data suggests that students do not ‘surrender’ and are in fact deliberate and metacognitive in their approach to writing. Our paper thus shows how doctoral students in the sciences can use their developed rhetorical consciousness metacognitively to trouble, bend, critique and innovate their genres.
Cheng, A. (2018). Genre and graduate-level research writing. University of Michigan Press ELT
Tardy, C. M. (2016). Beyond convention: Genre innovation in academic writing. University of Michigan Press ELT
doctoral education, research writing, academic writing, writing for publication, agency, creativity, genre