Multigenre: An Introduction
by Lisa Langstraat
"A multigenre paper arises from research, experience, and imagination. It is not an uninterrupted, expository monolog nor a seamless narrative nor a collection of poems. A multigenre paper is composed of many genres and subgenres, each piece self-contained, making a point of its own, yet connected by theme or topic and sometimes by language, images, and content. In addition to many genres, a multigenre paper may also contain many voices, not just the author's. The trick is to make such a paper hang together."
~~ (Romano, Blending Genre, Altering Style i-xi)
Multigenre writing projects respond to contemporary conceptions of genre, audience, voice, arrangement and style by enabling students to tap into their knowledge about new media literacies, rich rhetorical situations, and the multiple perspectives that are inherent in any writing activity.
In short, multigenre projects entail a series of generic documents that are linked by a central premise, theme, or goal. They may forward an argument, trace a history, or offer multiple interpretations of a text or event. They are rigorous forms of writing, involving all of the elements of a traditional research paper: research and citation, coherence and organization, purpose and aim of discourse, audience awareness, and conventional appropriateness. Thus, while multigenre projects certainly teach students valuable, transferable strategies and expectations for writing, they go further. As Nancy Mack explains, multigenre writing:
- Presents multiple, even conflicting perspectives of one event or topic.
- Provides a rich context for an event or topic.
- Demonstrates sophisticated understanding of audience needs and interests.
- Permits meaning to dictate form, rather than vice versa.
- Demonstrates a sophisticated knowledge of various genres and uses of language.
- Integrates factual information into a meaningful text, verses copying or simply recall.
- Permits the author to highlight personal interests and special expertise.
- Stimulates critical analysis and higher-level thinking skills.
- Makes coherence and unity a genuine rhetorical problem to be solved.
- Requires research skills and knowledge of source documentation.
- Can make full use of new media literacies.
- Is almost impossible to plagiarize.
- Results in an interesting, engaging product.
- Demands careful reading and response.
Multigenre writing is thus informed by a multitude of rhetorical considerations including a complex understanding of genre theory. Teachers who engage in multigenre assignments must be prepared to sequence assignments/project pieces carefully, to engage in new kinds of response and evaluation strategies, and to learn to trust their students abilities and creativity. The results of this preparation, engagement, and trust are consistently surprising, heartening, and rhetorically sophisticated.
For additional information, see the following links:
Multigenre Projects Main Page ¦ Introduction to Multigenre ¦ Multigenre Projects Table of Contents ¦ Return to Writing Gallery
Transcript of Multigenre Research Paper
The Multigenre Research Paper "A multigenre paper arises from research, experience, and imagination. It is not an uninterrupted, expository monolog nor a seamless narrative nor a collection of poems. A multigenre paper is composed of many genres and subgenres, each piece self-contained, making a point of its own, yet connected by theme or topic and sometimes by language, images, and content. In addition to many genres, a multigenre paper may also contain many voices, not just the author's. The trick is to make such a paper hang together" (Tom Romano). Just like a research paper . . . you will:
select a topic
conduct research (collecting, recording, synthesizing, and presenting information) BUT There will be no single, extended prose piece (i.e. the traditional research paper). The multigenre research paper consists of a number of creative projects (poetry, advice columns, diary entries, news articles, lists, artwork, graphics, and alternate styles of writing) . . . imaginative writing based on fact. Traditional Research Paper Multigenre Research Paper single, extended prose piece
begins with a thesis
cohesion imposed from the start
writer remains dispassionate about subject
approaches topic from a single perspective
follows conventions of formal prose writing
usually consists of only text
usually done as a solitary individual assignment cohesive series of pieces in variety of genres
begins with an interest
cohesion developed along the way
helps researcher recover lost voices
writer personally engaged; opinions encouraged
takes many angles on a topic
broadens the range of acceptance writing styles
artwork, graphics, design and packaging text
involves much small-group work, peer response, and sharing A Multigenre Research Paper is . . . "I believe that writing in the world is a mural, not a snapshot" (Tom Romano). experimenting with style
writing with purpose
designing elements The Assignment REMEMBER! The multigenre research paper is equivalent to a regular research paper. This means that you still need to account for all the necessary information! from: & (mostly) Research Avoid google searches!
Use books, databases, and periodicals.
You must learn how to conduct research beyond google! So . . . here are the requirements: You need a minimum of 5 sources. However, you will likely need more than 5 sources to do your project well and have significant information, so don't stop after you find 5 or assume that the first 5 you find are the right 5. Research is about trial and error and about synthesizing the right information (not the first information you find).
Of those 5 sources, 4 should be book and/or database sources. Exceptions will be made on an individual basis depending on the topic choice and the research effort already made. How will I be documenting the sources I find? You will not be making source cards, but you will still need to document your research
In lieu of source cards, you will be creating an annotated bibliography.
This will be due shortly after our research days are completed.
ALL DOCUMENTATION MUST BE IN MLA FORMAT. The Annotated Bibliography An annotated bibliography includes your sources (in MLA format), a summary of your source (including the main ideas/arguments and overall purpose), an evaluation (how useful is it?) of that source, and a reflection (how does this fit in with my research?) *Addition: your annotated bibliography must begin with a paragraph, This paragraph will explain your topic, why you chose it, and the emerging theme/thesis that will bring your project together, Kai's project included a controversial editorial about Cobain's suicide, an news article covering his death, a picture and short biography you'd find at a funeral, a diary with several entries, an interview with responses, concert tickets for two important Nirvana concert events, and a crossword puzzle. Kai's Project on Kurt Cobain Victoria's Project on Dental Malpractice, organized as a lawyer's file with different exhibits to be used as evidence. Lyndsey's project on the Titantic was created as one woman's memory box that she's forced to confront again when the popular Titanic movie premiered.