“The student has to appropriate (or be appropriated by) a specialized discourse, and he has to do this as though he were easily and comfortably one with his audience, as though he were a member of the academy or an historian or an anthropologist or an economist; he has to invent the university.” -David Bartholomae, “Inventing the University” (1986)
I read this in English 425, and I have been intrigued by this ever since, this notion that we must mimic a genre before we can master it. But what is genre, anyway? Before, I found the predetermined infrastructure of a genre limiting and trite, but I have since realized its utility. Genre tells us where to look for content and where to place our own. But it’s also a signal; adherence to conventions indicates insider status in a discipline.
I am thinking that the capstone project is some sort of test on this front, assessing our ability to see which conventions of our discipline(s) enhance the inquiry of our subject and which conventions only hinder this inquiry. In short, I think we will be assessed on our ability to deviate artfully.