Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Rhetorical Structure of Book Reviews: A Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Disciplinary Study

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Rhetorical Structure of Book Reviews: A Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Disciplinary Study

Article excerpt


Different genres are related to the academic settings. Book review, research paper, recommendation letter, and annotated bibliography are just a few instances of genres which pertain to academic setting. Each type has its significant role in the process of negotiating ideas and opinions in the scholarly sphere. The presence of book reviews dates back to 2000 years ago (Orteza y Miranda, as cited in Hyland, 2000), but it is in the mid - 17th century that the new form of book review is proposed.

Swales (1990) states that review genre as a genre which is of high importance in academic settings which "exhibits various patterns of similarity of structure, style, content, and intended audience." The audience of book reviews are usually scholars and members of academia who want to catch up with the latest publications, thus this genre is paid attention to extensively. Motta-Roth also states, in his dissertation, the purpose of review genre is to "introduce and evaluate new publications in the field". Hyland (2000) highlights the importance of book reviews and states this genre is a pivotal part and parcel of academic discourse. Hyland states that book review is of more-or less impersonal literature (p.41). The evaluative nature of book reviews is another feature of this academic genre. He, also, mentions that the main audience of the review is the writer of the book; thus, it might lead to a personal, direct and critical encounter between the author of the book and the reviewer.

Regarding the generic structure of book reviews, it is better to first elaborate on the concepts of the genre and genre analysis. The notion of genre which is from French and originated from Latin (Chandler, 1997) has been gained much more attention during the last decades since it has been known that all texts or literary texts involve a genre or genres (Smith, 2007). Although the term is difficult to define, various definitions are given for this terminology. For instance, Hyland (2002) described genre as socially perceived ways of using language. According to Yates and Orlikowski (1992), genres are social kinds of communicative actions routinely performed by members of a community to understand special communicative purposes. As Nunan (1992) mentioned while genre was used to refer to various types of literary discourse like tragedies, sonnets and so forth, it has been recognized as different types of communicative actions recently. Biber and Corad (2009) explained that genre is a social process in which the members with the same culture use language in a predictable sequential structure to accomplish particular communicative purposes. But the most fundamental definition is given by Swales (1990) who considered genre as "a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes which are recognized by the expert members of the parent discourse community".

Having introduced the concept of genre, it is essential to provide a method for the appropriate description of the structure of any instance of communication. This can be done through genre analysis (Nodoushan, 2011). But what is genre analysis? Genre analysis is centered on the concrete uses of texts with all their possible consequences and it can be described on the basis of the features as: form, space, number, length, type, and framework (David, 2003; Valenskey, 2010).

Genre analysis deals with the description of the higher level organization and structure of both written and spoken texts. Its focus is on communicative purposes and strategies in using the language (Qin cited in Xu, 2005). According to Arhus (2005) genre analysis is concerned with analyzing a given text in a way that the analysts by knowing necessary information can determine which genre the text belongs to. The analysis is on the basis of features and conventions used which make the text akin to other texts.

Observing previous studies, adequate literature was found on the concept of genre and genre analysis. …

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