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Multigenre Essays

A Brief List of Genres:
  • Journal Entries
  • Personal Letter
  • Greeting Card
  • Schedule/Things to Do List
  • Inner Monologue Representing Internal Conflicts
  • Classified or Personal Ads
  • Personal Essay or Philosophical Questions
  • Top Ten List/Glossary or Dictionary
  • Poetry
  • Song Lyrics
  • Autobiographical Essay
  • Contest Entry Application
  • Business Letter or Correspondence/Persuasive or Advocacy Letter
  • Biographical Summary
  • Critique of a Published Source
  • Speech or Debate
  • Historical Times Context Essay
  • Textbook Article
  • Science Article or Report/Business Article or Report
  • Lesson Plan
  • Encyclopedia Article
  • Short Scene from a Play with Notes for Stage Directions
  • Short Scene from a Movie with Notes for Camera Shots
  • Dialogue of a Conversation among Two or More People
  • Short Story
  • Adventure Magazine Story
  • Ghost Story
  • Myth, Tall Tale, or Fairy Tale
  • Talk Show Interview or Panel
  • Recipe and Description of Traditional Holiday Events
  • Classroom Discussion
  • Character Analysis or Case Study
  • Comedy Routine or Parody
  • Liner Notes
  • Picture book
  • Chart or Diagram with Explanation and Analysis
  • Brochure or Newsletter
  • Time Line or Chain of Events
  • Map with Explanation and Analysis
  • Magazine or TV Advertisement or Infomercial
  • Restaurant Description and Menu
  • Travel Brochure Description
  • How-To or Directions Booklet
  • Receipts, Applications, Deeds, Budgets or Other Documents
  • Wedding, Graduation or Special Event Invitation
  • Birth Certificate
  • Local News Report
  • Pop-Up book
  • Review and Poster for a Movie, Book, or TV Program
  • Board Game or Trivial Pursuit with Answers and Rules
  • Comic Strip or Graphic Novel excerpt
  • Power Point Presentation
  • Informational Video
  • Web Site
  • Future News Story
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Newspaper or Magazine Feature/Human Interest Story
  • Obituary, Eulogy or Tribute
  • News Program Story or Announcement
  • Tabloid Article

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.

Additional materials:

For additional information, see the following links:

Multigenre Projects Main Page  ¦  Introduction to Multigenre ¦ Multigenre Projects Table of Contents  ¦  Return to Writing Gallery

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