Response to Miller’s piece

Despite the ideas and the conclusion Miller made, I really like her argument: the evidences are sufficient and thorough. The argument chain is logical and justified.

 Judging genre starts from the classification of the discourses. In order to classify them, scholars should have to find the legitimate principle standards to induce similarities.  Miller explicates several rhetors’ understandings of principles. And put forward her conclusion that “a rhetorically sound definition of genre must be centered not on the substance or the form of discourse but on the action it is used to accomplish.”(P151)

 Bitzer’s concept of exigence is expanded and developed by Miller. In her opinion, exigence is not only an emergency or a danger, but also a form of social knowledge: “a mutual construing of objects, events, interests and purpose”, in other words, an objectified social need. As far as I understand, I think her objectified social need is what she taken as the essence of genre. The social action compasses not only the objective material situation, but also a subjective internal reaction to the situation.

 Some notes:

Scholars’ opinions on genre

1. Campbell and Jamieson’s point of view on genre: “a genre is composed of a constellation of recognizable forms bound together by an internal dynamic” (p152).  

2. Harrell and Linkugel: “rhetorical genres stem from organizing principles found in recurring situations that generate discourse characterized by a family of common factors.”(P153)

3. Walter R Fisher: Fisher proposed four levels of distinguishing rhetoric from other types of discourse. And each level will be taken as the principles of classification. (P154)

 

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