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Genre, Intertextuality, and Social Power

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Abstract

This article addresses the relationship between discourse, textual and social order, and power by means of an examination of the concept of genre. It begins with a critical review of the way genre has been used in linguistic anthropology. A distinction is delineated between approaches that take for granted the status of genre as a tool for classifying and ordering discourse and those that contend with elements of generic ambiguity and dynamism. Proceeding to outline a new approach to genre, the discussion analyzes a wide range of intertextual relations that are deployed in constituting generic links. A series of examples contrasts strategies for minimizing gaps between texts and generic precedents with strategies for maximizing such gaps. A final section points to the ways that investigating generic intertextuality can illuminate questions of ideology, political economy, and power.

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