Genres, media, and recontextualization practices
Re-considering basic concepts of genre theory in the age of social media
The main argument put forward in this paper is that traditional linguistic genre theories neglect the importance of media and their modal affordances in the formation of new genres. It argues that media cannot be viewed as (passive) configurations of technical, semiotic, and cultural features which are chosen by actors/ rhetors in order to serve their communicative needs, but rather as mediators whose modal affordances actively influence communicators’ meaning making choices. In order to support this argument, it will be shown how forms of discourse representation gradually developed from a stylistic device in oral communication to a genre constitutive practice (e.g., in printed academic communication), and eventually became a genre of its own (as the practice of “sharing” content) in social media communication. In the analyses, the focus is on the interplay between modal affordances of the different media in which discourse representation formats are used, their formal properties, and pragmatic factors (like audience expectations in different communicative genres and situations). It is shown how innovative aspects of a medium influence formal features of discourse representation which in turn serve different communicative purposes in different genres.
Keywords: genre formation, genre theory, textual voice, discourse representation, recontextualization, new media communication, social media communication
Published online: 20 May 2019
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