Rhetorical Genre Studies

Scholars in the fields of Rhetoric, Critical Theory, and Writing Studies theorize about the role of genre in interpretation, reading, writing and invention. Over the past twenty years, genre has become a robust site of research. (See Wikipedia’s Genre Studies page and Genre page for a detailed historical perspective on Genre.)

For writers, perhaps the most important work to come out of Genre Studies is Susan Miller’s pioneering work on the relationship between genre and rhetoric (see Genre as Social Action). For Miller, the process of making meaning–whether one is writing, reading, or interpreting texts–occurs in a social space, a discourse community, that operates rhetorically.

Here’s how all that breaks down in practice: When communicating with one another, people hold shared histories, instincts, desires, personalities, attitudes and knowledge about a topic, and images.

Additionally, some theorists (e.g., Carl Jung) believe humans are born with a collective unconscious that they inherit from ancient ancestors. This collective unconscious hosts archetypes, which are abbreviated originals of things. So, even before reaching conscicousnes, the baby holds