Tracing the Past and Outlining the Future: The James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal as a Genre System

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Campbell, Lindsey R.
JMU Scholarly Commons
genre study; genre system; charter document
thesis / dissertation description
Through my analysis of JMURJ as a genre system and my examination of the Screening Criteria document as a central point of communication and meaning, I will explain the value of such genre analyses and how certain texts embody an organization’s purpose and organize its communicative activities. As genre theorists Carol Berkenkotter and Thomas Huckin suggest, “Understanding the genres of written communication in one’s field is [...] essential to professional success” (“Rethinking Genre”). I hope to show how an understanding of the way genres function in an organizational context provides valuable insight into the process of carrying out a purpose. Understanding the importance of written genres to this process allows one to better understand how genres organize communicative activity, and as Berkenkotter and Huckin suggest, leads to professional (or in this case, academic) success.After exploring the existing work on charter documents and genre systems, I will explore JMURJ using genre theorists Jo Anne Yates and Wanda Orlikowski’s communicative framework to show how genres communicate purpose, structure expectations, and inform locational meanings. I will then focus on the Screening Criteria document, exploring its revision history using Christa Teston and Lucille McCarthy’s framework for a charter document as context for those changes. I hope to show how the development of a charter document like the Screening Criteria document parallels the growth of a genre system like JMURJ.