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Jess Pauszek Comp Pedagogy September 18, 2013 Patrick Berry Writing for Social Action In Mary Solidays

Everyday Genres she opens with a discussion of how genres are closely linked to rhetorical situations because they invoke motives, purpose, and can even be a social action (2). When thinking about genre, she wants to focus specifically on the stance and the evidence student writers give, as opposed to seeing a genres power come from the textual form (i.e. paragraph structure, sentence transitions, etc.) that it takes (2). Ive not had much exposure to genre theory, but I see great value in Solidays ideas about how genre is connected to social standing and a larger structure of the university or disciplines because, as she states, Genre shapes how writers talk about something to someone for some reason. (2). In fact, while Ive thought about genre in this waythat it enables and constrains how we write and for what reasons, Ive admittedly not connected it explicitly to my own pedagogy. After understanding more about what genre does though, and picking up on Solidays claim (citing Carolyn Miller) that genre is a social action, I think there are multiple ways to think through the implications for a pedagogy invested in community engagement (3). Im particularly interested when Soliday states that genre asks us to consider the nature of expertise in writing and that genreas a social practicecalls for our class assignments to be attentive to the larger social motives the genre performs for readers (11). Here, Soliday articulates the ability and necessity of genres (through our assignments) to be purposefully situated in the contexts around us. Although I dont think Soliday is explicitly talking about connecting to communities around us the way that I envision it literally shaping a genre or assignment based on community needsI appreciate her call for us to connect genre to

something tangible in our lives. For my own pedagogy, Im curious if community engagement can enable me to push my own ideas about genre further. For instance, Soliday uses genre as a way for writers to participate in a situation rather than write about it (35). What appeals to me about this idea is that it involves an action on the part of the writer. I hesitate to use the word novice, as she does, for the sake of my interest in community partnerships, which value the possibility that community members are experts in addition to those in the university (this all depends on what we are actually evaluating and how). However, community engagement is the exigency for rhetorical action, and the necessity of situational and, thus textual, flexibility. Said another way, when engaging with a community, writers must balance institutional, course, and community demands and needs, but they are given a chance to literally participate in a situation by going out to the community and shaping their actions and writing for local contexts. In these situations, a writing instructor could shape the genre of assignments based on the community-as-audiences desires. To be sure, this may be idealistic and messy to shape a classroom around a communitys needs, but Solidays concepts of stance is applicable with this idea. I agree with Soliday that stance is malleable based on the context of the genre, so that a writer is negotiating their voice in relation to something through the use of evaluative language, for instance. The importance here is that the genre and stance are not in isolation, removed from the socialized world, but rather in conversation (i.e. not just a linear, static, and insular) (84). This makes me think about Paula Mathieu and Diana Georges article Not Going It Alone: Public Writing, Independent Media, and the Circulation of Homeless Advocacy where they argue that we need to be attentive to the circulation of public writing and local needs. Bringing this idea to Solidays work, if we neglect how a text circulates, we are also forgetting about our audience and how the texts creation (or

the genre of it) corresponds to the people, events, or exigencies around us. Thinking about Mathieu and Georges discussion and Solidays, I would agree with Soliday that genres shouldnt be isolated; if anything, Id argue even further that they should be constructed out of what is going around in the local context around students. In full disclosure, Ive not been able to use this pedagogy at a college level on my own yet. However, I have had some experience with high school students prompting them to create their own genres, for their particular goals and communities. A key issue or critique of a pedagogy such as this is that if we take writing to be so thoroughly connected to the community, shouldnt some of the feedback/assessment/evaluation of these genres come from the community members themselves? I see this question as somewhat parallel to Solidays question, How do teachers across disciplines talk about and evaluate student writing? (11). Whether we are in different disciplines or communities, our values influence how we talk and think about writing, as well as how we assess it. For me, though, this is where my current research really comes in, as Im trying to think about how writing assessment can be more community-minded and attentive to circulationso, perhaps I need to think through the question of genre as social action a bit more to tie into this work.