Recent years have witnessed the widespread application of genre theory to the analysis of texts in professional and academic settings. Critical Genre Analysis: Investigating Interdiscursive Performance in Professional Practice presents an innovative approach to genre analysis, which allows a multidimensional study of the various factors interacting in the production of specialized genres in the professional setting. The approach Bhatia proposes adds a new dimension of ‘criticality’ to genre theory attempting to demystify the multiperspective nature of professional practices in real-world situations. The volume represents Bhatia’s cumulative research endeavours in his studies of professional and academic discourses over the past several decades and makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature on genre theory in applied linguistics. The book comprises nine chapters organized in four parts. Chapter 1 in Part I provides an overview of the book. Bhatia starts off with a discussion of the developments in genre theory, highlighting the importance of the construct of context in genre studies. He maintains that whereas the conventional English for specific purposes-inspired genre analysis focuses largely on textual resources with only limited attention given to context, critical genre analysis (CGA) takes the context into serious consideration when studying real-life professional practices. He then argues convincingly for interdiscursive integration of discursive and professional practices where both text-internal and text-external factors are taken into account in his framework for CGA. Here, text-internal factors are related to ‘intertextuality’, referring to interactions between and across texts, whereas text-external factors are concerned with ‘interdiscursivity’, referring to interactions between and across genres, professional and disciplinary practices, and cultures surrounding texts. It is clear that a full consideration of these text-external factors is essential if a critical investigation of professional genres is to be fruitfully carried out. This overview chapter is important, as it not only sets the scene for the whole book but also provides useful pointers for readers to capture the essence of CGA. Part II presents the theoretical framework for CGA. Three key issues of criticality, interdiscursivity, and multiperspective and multidimensional methodologies are dealt with in the three chapters. Chapter 2 defines and discusses the notion, features, and functions of ‘criticality’ in CGA. Bhatia makes an effort to distinguish it from the use of the notion in the long-established critical discourse analysis (CDA). He does this by offering a detailed and clear elucidation of the term ‘critical’ used in CDA and CGA with dichotomous titles such as professional vs. social practice, analytical rigor vs. ideological bias, theory of contextualisation vs. textualisation, interdiscursive socio-pragmatic vs. discursive space, interdiscursivity vs. intertextuality, etc. In essence, as a form of methodology, the ‘critical’ in CDA means exposing the connections between language, power, and ideology, whereas the notion in CGA attempts to demystify the multidimensional nature of professional, institutional, and disciplinary genres and practices. In Chapter 3, a distinction is made between ‘intertextuality’ and ‘interdiscursivity’, with the former being concerned with text-internal factors and the latter with text-external factors. After this, using diagrams and related empirical studies, Bhatia brings up the central issues of hybridization of genres and appropriation across genres, professional practices, and cultures. These processes of generic appropriation and management give birth to various forms of genre-mixing, genre-embedding, and genre-bending. In Chapter 4, Bhatia explicates and argues for a comprehensive and deeper investigation of genres in real-life professional settings, emphasizing that professional genres are multidimensional entities, and thus, it is of vital importance to use multiple and mixed methodologies to study them. After this theoretical section, Part III presents five different case studies Bhatia has undertaken in the past decade. These empirical studies, as Bhatia points out, were designed and conducted with an attempt to extend the boundaries of conventional genre analysis. They will prove very useful in revealing tools for readers to understand the theoretical framework for CGA proposed in the above section. Chapter 5 presents a three-year study of corporate disclosure practices, showing and demystifying how four different kinds of discourse (i.e., accounting, finance, public relations, and law) are strategically mixed and manipulated to project a positive corporate image. Drawing on analyses of moves and lexical-grammar features, Bhatia concludes that it is important to pay close attention to the use of interdiscursive strategies by examining interactive space between discursive practice and professional practices in the corporate world to achieve ‘private intentions’ (Bhatia 2008) within socially accepted generic norms. Drawing on data from a seven-year international research project, Bhatia, in Chapter 6, demonstrates interdiscursive performance as a site of colonization in which one consensual arbitration practice by another adversarial litigation practice achieves ‘private intentions’. Interdiscursive evidence including genre texts such as written testimonies, witness examination in litigation, and arbitration awards is critically examined and interpreted. Chapter 7 is concerned with the appropriation of marketing culture in fundraising practices. The analysis of moves, specific rhetorical resources, and discourse strategies in the chapter successfully illustrates how this professional practice and culture of fundraising can be interdiscursively influenced by the marketing culture, compromising the philanthropic nature of fundraising as a result. Chapter 8 turns to another two aspects of interdiscursivity: management of interdiscursive space, and the participation mechanism in legislative and new media genre practices. In the management of interdiscursive space, Bhatia examines how legal draftsmen use the participant management system in their legislative drafting practice for simplification of legal provisions. When talking about the participation mechanism, Bhatia critically analyses how new media exploits participation systems to create generic hybrids of private and public discourse involving simultaneous participation from readers at the same time. The final chapter in Part IV provides a summary of the central argument for viewing CGA as interdiscursive performance in professional practice, re-emphasizing the three key features of CGA: interdiscursivity of genres, discourse as performance, and multiperspective mixed methodology. Apart from this, the chapter discusses the pedagogical application of CGA to English for professional communication. It also proposes to extend the traditional boundaries of applied linguistics to include such areas as studies of corporate and organizational communication, translation and interpretation in English for professional communication, and document and information design in discursive and professional practices. The above areas Bhatia has identified as prominent in CGA are certainly important for applied linguistic studies. As a problem-solving discipline, applied linguistics is known as ‘the theoretical investigation of real-world problems in which language is a central issue’ (Brumfit 1995: 27), and CGA offers a fertile ground for exploring these areas. By integrating textualization and contextualization with a focus on criticality, the book provides a fresh and effective approach to analysing professional genres and practices within specific professional communities. CGA as is proposed in the book is timely and invaluable in that it extends the boundaries of conventional genre analysis, making a valuable contribution to genre theory by providing a powerful tool to address the thorny issues of hybrid genres that are the norm in the present intensely competitive and fast-changing world. What deserves a special mention is the inclusion of many empirical examples throughout the book, in particular, in Part III, where five case studies are presented. They are truly helpful to readers to better understand the theoretical framework for CGA and exemplary to graduate students and researchers in the field when they embark on their own research. The book is well-written. The chapters in four parts are balanced with a clearly related and logical theme, and the text is supported with ample examples, diagrams, and figures to facilitate understanding. Given its innovative and rich content, the book has undoubtedly opened up new perspectives for genre studies and will serve as a reference and a practical guide for students, teachers, and researchers in genre analysis and discourse studies who seek to keep themselves informed on the latest developments in applied linguistics. References Bhatia V. K. 2008 . ‘Genre analysis, ESP and professional practice ,’ English for Specific Purposes 27 : 161 – 74 . Google Scholar Crossref Search ADS Brumfit C. 1995 . ‘Teacher professionalism and research’ in Cook G. , Seidlhofer B. (eds): Principles & Practice in Applied Linguistics . Oxford University Press . © Oxford University Press 2018 This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model)
Applied Linguistics – Oxford University Press
Published: Jun 1, 2019
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