Doing Rhetoric at the U 2013: Cognitive-pragmatic rhetoric and rhetorical genre: Useful references

The references below are intended to be useful for attendees of today’s Doing Rhetoric conference at the University of Minnesota. I’ve provided very rudimentary annotations.

Bawarshi, A. S., & Reiff, M. J. (2010). Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy. Parlor Press. Useful overview of contemporary genre theory.

Bazerman, C. (1988). Shaping Written Knowledge: The Genre and Activity of the Experimental Article in Science. University of Wisconsin Press. Landmark study exploring genres changing over time (among other things).

Berkenkotter, C., & Huckin, T. N. (1994). Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Communication: Cognition/culture/power. Routledge. Landmark study in genre theory.

Bitzer, L. (1968). The Rhetorical Situation. Philosphy & Rhetoric, 1(1), 1-14. Seminal article regarding Bitzer’s concept of the “rhetorical situation,” against which Miller (1984) pushes.

Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analysing genre: Language use in professional settings. Harlow, Essex, UK: Longman Group UK Ltd. Landmark study in genre theory.

Campbell, K. K., & Jamieson, K. H. (1978). Form and genre in rhetorical criticism: an introduction. In K. K. Campbell & K. H. Jamieson (Eds.), Form and Genre: Shaping Rhetorical Action (pp. 9-32). Falls Church, VA: Speech Communication Association. Important statement of Campbell and Jamieson’s concepts of genre theory, against which Miller (1984) pushes.

Clark, A. (1997). Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Introduction to contemporary cognitive theory’s concepts of “extended mind” (and arguably applicable to situated cognition).

Devitt, P. A. J. (2004). Writing Genres. Southern Illinois University Press. Landmark study in genre theory.

Gigerenzer, G., & Brighton, H. (2009). Homo heuristicus: Why biased minds make better inferences. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1(1), 107–143. Discussion of research showing the “fast and frugal” heuristics that humans use in making decisions, many conceivably applicable to communication decisions.

Harris, R. A. (2007). Foreword to “Rudiments of Cognitive Rhetoric”. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 37(4), 357–359. Introduction to Sperber and Cummins that presents at least three definitions of “cognitive rhetoric.”

Kahneman, D. (2003). Maps of bounded rationality: Psychology for behavioral economics. The American Economic Review, 93(5), 1449–1475. A response to some of Gigerenzer’s ideas, noting that heuristic decision-making often produces sub-optimal results.

Kirsh, D. (2009). Problem solving and situated cognition. In P. Robbins & M. Aydede (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (pp. 264–306). Cambridge  U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Contrasts the Carnegie-Mellon model for solving “well-defined problems” with situated cognition’s approach to solving “ill-defined problems.”

Jamieson, K.M. (1975). Antecedent Genre as Rhetorical Constraint. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 61(4), 406‐415. Important treatment of genre antecedent to Miller (1984).

Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as Social Action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70(2), 151–167.

Miller, C. R., & Shepherd, D. (2004). Blogging as social action: a genre analysis of the weblog. In L. J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the blogosphere: Rhetoric, community, and culture of weblogs. Retrieved from In this chapter, M&S focus on formal characteristics and some superficial cultural criticism to classify “blogs” as a genre, purportedly according to the framework in Miller (1984). But see Miller & Shepherd (2009).

Miller, C. R., & Shepherd, D. (2009). Questions for genre theory from the blogosphere. In J. Giltrow & D. Stein (Eds.), Genres in the Internet: Issues in the theory of genre (pp. 263–290). Philadelphia: John Benjamins B.V. This book chapter is a retraction, in a way, of the central claim of Miller & Shepherd (2004), that blogs constitute a genre.

Rosch, E., & Mervis, C. B. (1975). Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology, 7(4), 573–605. An accessible and useful introduction to prototype theory.

Schank, R. C., & Abelson, R. P. (1977). Scripts, Plans, Goals, and Understanding: An Inquiry Into Human Knowledge Structures. Psychology Press. This is a landmark exposition of script theory, referred to by some as schema or frame theory.

Sperber, D., & Cummins, S. (2007). Rudiments of Cognitive Rhetoric∗. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 37(4), 361–400. RSQ ran this piece, originally written in 1975, calling it an example of “cognitive rhetoric,” (see Harris 2007). Oddly, this piece is miles away from the relevance theory discussed in Sperber & Wilson (1996); Wilson & Sperber (2006; 2012).

Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1996). Relevance: Communication and Cognition (2nd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. Full presentation of relevance theory, and the most cited by far. Unfortunately, it is a facsimile of the first edition with additional material tacked on, making it difficult to use. See Wilson & Sperber (2006; 2012) instead.

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Landmark study in genre theory.

Wilson, D., & Sperber, D. (2006). Relevance theory. In L. Horn & G. Ward (Eds.), The Handbook of Pragmatics (pp. 607–632). Wiley-Blackwell. An abbreviated and very accessible treatment of relevance theory as of the date of publication.

Wilson, D., & Sperber, D. (Eds.). (2012). Meaning and Relevance. Cambridge  U.K.: Cambridge University Press. This recent collection considers relevance theory in light of the research of others.

2 thoughts on “Doing Rhetoric at the U 2013: Cognitive-pragmatic rhetoric and rhetorical genre: Useful references”

  1. Friendly amendment here: Think you’ve got a typo in the Devitt citation should be minus the “P”. She doesn’t have a “P” in her name. Just “Amy J.” …And there may or may not be a reason that you’re not citing Lakoff’s _Women Fire and Dangerous Things_ here (some people are principally opposed to him, of course), but he does exciting things with Rosch’s work there. Seems like these sources may also lead to interesting opportunities for cognitive approaches to meta-genre, too. Good hunting!

    1. EW: Thanks for the correction and the suggestion. I’d call myself a “warm neutral” where Lakoff is concerned, but I like WF&DT. There are a lot of other authorities I think I could (or should) have cited here, but I really just wanted to provide ones necessary to follow my talk during this particular conference presentation. As it was, I tried to cover too much ground in such a short time, and I probably should have focused on one issue rather than the many encompassed by these texts. I’m still learning the conference presentation genre 😉

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