In the Mirror of Genre: Students Write this
Genre, Form and Webtext
If we are to learn how to read and write this world, we must learn both
its textual forms and the rhetorical situations that spawn these forms.
In other words, we must understand its genres in the sense meant
by genre theorists such as Bazerman, Miller and others.
The hypertext gurus of my introduction speak mainly of literary hypertext.
But I am interested in argumentative hypertext: hypertext that, like an
essay, tries to put forward a point of view.
Genre is not just form, tt is form wedded to rhetorical occasion.
But an examination of form is a good starting point for an examination
of genre. In Socrates in the Labyrinth, David Kolb suggests
forms that argumentative or "philosophical" hypertext could take:
Mostly linear ways:
Less linear ways (but retaining main lines):
Caterpillar text, with expansions and "footnotes" off to the side.
Pyramidal text with an outline
An archive or library of journal articles and cross-references.
Much less linear ways:
Multiple arguments (parallel or independent) leading to joint or related
Dialogue or multilog with references: parallel monologues that consider
each other through cross references, although not in linear order.
Text with various undermining or deconstructive or qualifying or meta-commenting
moves applied locally or throughout.
Forests of commentary upon commentary--as in the great commentary traditions:
medieval, Chinese, Indian, Talmudic.
Text segments that support multiple outlines and multiple or conflicting
arguments as varying paths.
Exploring/exposing the discourse(s) surrounding an argument
A web of texts that reveals points of view, a landscape (or landscapes)
with alternative (and perhaps fictional) maps.
An expanding web of regions that ask questions upon questions.
Additive text that is not contestatory.
Holzwege: Woodpaths--fragmentary paths found in the forest, leading nowhere,
not converging, but opening up the dark woods in one another's neighborhood.