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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Preferred genres and rhetorical modes in the humanities and social sciences
Author:Carstens, AdeliaISNI
Periodical:Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
teaching methods
Abstract:The article reports on a research project carried out in 2007 aimed at identifying salient written genres and text types/rhetorical modes in the humanities and social science departments of a large university in Gauteng, South Africa. The main purpose of the research was to establish an empirical base for the design of intermediate-level undergraduate writing courses. A survey was done by means of text analysis: study guides were requested from a representative sample of (10) departments, after which writing prompts were identified and analysed. In terms of genre it was established that the humanities prefer essays and critical analyses, while the social sciences prefer project reports and essays. The rhetorical modes required most frequently at undergraduate level are discussion, analysis, argumentation, explanation and description. Discussion, explanation and argumentation are favoured by academic essays, while description and evaluation are favoured by reports, and analysis, argumentation and discussion are favoured by critical analyses. Although most essays presuppose argumentation, it is often not explicated in writing prompts. Other complicating factors are the ambiguity and hidden assumptions associated with certain rhetorical verbs. The outcomes of the research suggest two possible approaches to designing writing courses for undergraduate students in the humanities and social sciences: a subject-specific and a semi-generic approach, of which the latter may be more feasible within the framework of a macro-university. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]