The words “genre” in application to writing has always given me a bad taste in my mouth. As an English professor, I’ve found this to be unusual, but my own experience with genre as a student was not a pleasant one. I always felt like I didn’t know what my professors were talking about exactly, because I felt like I never had a clear example, even though I continued to excel in those courses. Consequently, I haven’t directly inserted the word “genre” into my two years of teaching so far. However, after reading Bean’s Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, I realized I’ve been using genre all along, without calling it that. Chapter three “Helping Writers Think Rhetorically” lays out a chart defining examples of genres. It then follows this with a discussion of open and closed form prose and details how it relates to and is linked with genre.
Having clear definitions for the topics I cover is invaluable. In every chapter of Bean’s book so far, I have found something I wish I had known two years ago when I began teaching. This should definitely be a required reading at the master’s level. I cannot wait to share some of the open-form writing and closed-form writing strategies coupled with genre in my classes.
Unfortunately, with so many good ideas, I’m left wondering: how do I prioritize what needs to be taught? My students already write four major essays throughout the semester, along with many smaller writing assignments. My instinct is to try them all and see what works best! But different methods work for different groups. Needless to say, I am excited to try this genre thing out.