Genre in the Sydney school

Authored by: David Rose

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415551076
eBook ISBN: 9780203809068
Adobe ISBN: 9781136672927


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Genre is the coordinating principle and starting point for discourse analysis in what has become known as the Sydney School (Martin, 2000, 2006; Martin and Rose, 2005). The approach has been designed over the past three decades with three major influences (among others): Halliday's (1975, 1994/2004) theory of language as a social semiotic (discussed by Schleppegrel in this volume; Martin, 1992; Martin and Rose, 2007, 2008); the sociological theory of Basil Bernstein (1990, 2000; see Christie and Martin, 1997); and a series of large-scale action research projects in literacy education (Martin, 1999, 2000; Rose, 2008; Rose and Martin, in press). The functional linguistic perspective on genre analysis distinguishes the Sydney School approach along several lines. With respect to linguistic models, its perspective is social rather than cognitive, its analysis of social contexts is social semiotic rather than ethnographic commentary, and it is designed along multiple dimensions as a stratified, metafunctional, multimodal theory of text in social context rather than eclectic. In relation to other fields, it is integrated in a functional theory of language rather than interdisciplinary, and its social goals are interventionist and focused on redistributing semiotic resources through education, rather than merely critical of those in power. With respect to the breadth and detail of its linguistic focus and its uniquely designed teaching strategies, Hyland (2007: 153) describes the Sydney School as ‘perhaps the most clearly articulated approach to genre both theoretically and pedagogically’ (see also Hyon, 1996; Johns, 2002).

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