Home > General Overview of the Competency Model > Modes of Cognitive Representation > The Social Mode > Social Background Knowledge > Overview of Genre Types

Many specific genres exist. It can be useful, however, to classify genres by both their purpose (the central speech act around which they are organized) and the types of reasoning they require. Such a classification can be boiled down to a relatively small set of genre types. The tables that follow present such a set, which is reasonably comprehensive, though not necessarily complete. It does, however, give a reasonable picture of the range of types of text that a highly literate person must be able to deal with, whether as a reader or as a writer.

In particular, we isolate the following general categories:
  • Directive/Requestive—concerned with action, either in the form of directions or requests, or by providing information about plans, actions, and the factors that determine their success.
  • Expository—concerned with facts and explanations, and thus focused on statements to be explained and illustrated as necessary.
  • Narrative—concerned with people, their motivations, and their interactions.
  • Persuasive—concerned with convincing people, either logically or through other forms of appeal.
  • Interpretive—concerned with representing and responding to information in other texts.
An important element of literacy is the ability to handle a wide range of different types of texts effectively. Since each particular reading or writing task draws upon a different combination of literacy skills, any statement about people's skill levels as readers or writers must be able to generalize across many different types of text.

Literature Note - Genre

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