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LINGUIST List 16.2138

Tue Jul 12 2005

Diss: Text/Corpus Ling: Babaii: 'Towards an Analysis...'

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        1.    Esmat Babaii, Towards an Analysis of Book Reviews as an Academic Written Genre

Message 1: Towards an Analysis of Book Reviews as an Academic Written Genre
Date: 12-Jul-2005
From: Esmat Babaii <ebabaiigmail.com>
Subject: Towards an Analysis of Book Reviews as an Academic Written Genre

Institution: Shiraz University
Program: Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Esmat Babaii

Dissertation Title: Towards an Analysis of Book Reviews as an Academic Written Genre

Linguistic Field(s): Text/Corpus Linguistics

Dissertation Director:
Abdolmehdi Riazi
Firuz Sadighi
Lotfollah Yarmohammadi

Dissertation Abstract:

In the literature on genre scholarship, three major approaches to analyzing
genre can be tracked down (cf. Hyon, 1996). The three principal and
leading traditions which have dominated the field are based on (1) the
seminal work of Systemic Functional Linguists (SFL) such as Halliday
(1985a), Ventola (1987), Christie (1989), Hasan (1984, 1989), Martin (1984,
1992, 1993a & b), and Kress (1989, 1993), to name but a few, (2) the
leading work of John Swales (1981a & b, 1986, 1990), Dudley-Evans (1986),
Flowerdew (1992, 1993), Bhatia (1993), among others, and finally (3) the
genre-based new rhetoric studies (see, e.g., Bazerman, 1988; Devitt, 1993;
Freedman & Medway, 1994, etc.).

The purpose of the present study was to draw on Swalesian move analytic and
Hallidayan Systemic-Functional approaches to genre analysis and introduce
a two-tier model or a cross-disciplinary cross-model framework in order to
define or systematically characterize Book Reviews (BRs) as an academic
written genre at two levels of investigation. More specifically, the
purpose of this study was: (1) to identify prototypical generic textual
features of BRs that seem to operate both at macro-structural (move
analytic) and micro-linguistic (lexico-grammatical) levels, and (2) to
investigate whether or not these macro/micro generic features of BRs vary
across disciplines (physics, sociology, and literature).

To this end, a corpus of 90 academic BRs from discipline-related
research-based professional journals were randomly selected. At two
distinct stages, the data were analyzed from the standpoint of two
theoretical perspectives: (a) Swalesian move structure and (b) SFL
transitivity system. The move analysis of BRs revealed that there seems to
exist a discernible macro-move structure basically common across the three
disciplines. In plain words, performing similar communicative purposes, BRs
seem to carry a generic discipline-neutral macro-move structure whatever
the field of inquiry. The move pattern of BRs essentially includes six
major moves appearing, in 76.7% of the cases, in the following sequence:
(1) an obligatory 'Introduction'(100%), (2) an obligatory 'Description of
the Content' (100%), (3) an obligatory 'Evaluation' (100%), (4) an optional
'Articulation of a Position' (19%), (5) an optional 'Demarcation of the
Readership' (35.5%), and finally (6) an optional 'Recommendation' (29%).

As for the transitivity system used in BRs to realize moves, however,
significant differences were observed in terms of both the type and the
frequency of processes and participants. This, it seems, points to a
difference in semantic configuration of BRs peculiar to each discipline,
though they all seem to fulfill a similar communicative purpose of
evaluating knowledge production in the academic milieu. To be more
specific, these features point to the fact that BRs in physics journals, as
compared to their counterparts in sociology and literature journals, appear
to carry a higher percentage of passive construction, non-human concrete
participants, and of relational and existential processes, together with a
lower percentage of specific human participants; hence, leading to texts
significantly loaded up with grammatical metaphor and impersonality.

The findings of this study, it is believed here, can provide English
Language Teaching (ELT) materials developers with a theoretically-sound and
empirically-valid framework for the development of genre-based second
language teaching programs whose objective is to teach reading/writing in
English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Also, from a theoretical standpoint,
the results of the present investigation seem to have cast some new light
on the rhetorical and linguistic features of BRs as an academic written genre.

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