The mixed genre writing process

Date of Completion

January 2003


Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Exposition and narration as writing forms are often oppositional in terms of their purposes, stylistic elements, and organizational patterns. Recently there have been calls for “mixed” and “alternate” genre writing to allow for the intersection of academic investigation (typically exposition) and emotional investment (typically narration) previously limited by using either/or forms. The present study was an investigation into the writing process of writers choosing mixed genre forms. ^ Five interviews were conducted with writers of five mixed genre writing pieces published in refereed academic journals or books. The researcher sought to determine the following: What characterizes a piece of mixed genre writing, according to the writer, in terms of (a) purposes of the writer including but not limited to personal, communicative, learning, and political, (b) content, (c) writing strategies/processes, (d) learning processes, and (e) form(s) chosen. What are the influences, according to the writer, that cause these writers to choose this style or resist another style, including but not limited to, the politics of academia in general and the field in particular, the status of the writer in the field, and the context in which the piece is submitted? ^ Analysis of the case studies indicated that mixed genre writing gave participants a place to grapple with a problem or idea by synthesizing informational knowledge with personal knowledge. Furthermore, the participants all emphasized the learning they experienced during this writing process. These findings are not surprising given the foundational literature by Vygotsky (1962/1996), Britton (1970), and Berthoff (1981, 1984) suggesting that the linking of personal experience and academic exploration are essential for learning. The data further indicated that the narration/exposition opposition might be politically/institutionally motivated and/or maintained in spite of the fact that the kind of synthetic thinking prompted by mixed genre writing might best serve the learning interests of students. ^