Writing, identity, learning: the affordances of genres

As Fiona is part of the Tactile Academia family, some of you might be interested in this talk:

Applied Linguistics Research Seminar Series Hosted by the Centre for Applied Linguistics, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

Writing, identity, learning: the affordances of genres

Dr. Fiona English

5:30 pm, Tuesday, 10 May 2016
UCL Institute of Education, Clarke Hall, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H OAL

Most discussion about genre and writing focuses on describing and analysing the structures and functions of different genres in particular contexts, typically academic or professional, often using those analyses to develop students’ writing by showing them how to produce these genres. What I focus on, however, is what genres enable us to do, what they enable us to learn and how. In other words, I am interested in the affordances of genres.

In this talk I use examples from different phases of my work to show how I came to this particular understanding starting with writing produced by two fifteen year olds and finishing with the work of a mature non-traditional student on a Master’s programme. Each case explores what might be called genre transgression – that is using what would be considered the wrong genre for a given writing context (e.g. a play instead of an essay, a literary genre instead of a scientific one). Using the theoretical framework oforientation which emerged out of my research into student writing and genre (2011), I hope to demonstrate how the genres we use shape, not only what we write about but what we can write about and even who we can be as writers.

My aims are twofold. On the one hand I want to show that genre can be used a transformative resource in learning and teaching rather than simply as a pedagogical goal and that working with different genres offers students the chance to develop new ways of understanding their disciplinary work whether at school or at university. On the other hand, I want to promote the idea of genre choice by drawing attention to the different communicative options that genres allow.


English, F. 2011, Student Writing and Genre: Reconfiguring Academic Writing. Bloomsbury


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: