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GWRJ Issue 6.1

Fall 2015

Oriana Gilson

The Genre of  Grandma’s Letters


Gilson uses texts she loves—letters from her grandmother—to explore the lessons we can take away from an analysis of everyday writing. Incorporating textual analysis, interviews, and secondary research, Gilson examines the antecedent genres that helped shape her grandmother’s writing style and the ways in which her grandmother transferred her understandings of writing from one composing experience to another. 

Lucy Belomoina

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: How Facebook Implicates Happy Users in the Activities of  Literate Practice


Belomoina analyzes her personal profile on Facebook through the lens of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). Belomoina examines how she operates within the activity system of Facebook and, through discussion of her research and personal experience, she defines key CHAT terms such as trajectory and audience.

Angela Sheets

That’s So Sweet: Where Writing Research Stops (and Starts) for Cheesecake


Sheets met with twenty-four-year-old Lindsay Bachman, owner of That’s So Sweet, a cheesecake shop in Lexington, IL. They met at the now-closed Normal, IL, satellite branch of the shop and chatted about how writing and writing research are an everyday part of running a business.

Thaddeus Dieken

Summer Hit (Me Baby One More Time)


If you’ve ever wondered why some songs are so darn catchy or what causes certain tunes to soar to popularity while others remain in a state of anonymity, you’re not alone. Dieken lets his curiosity about this very topic lead him on an exploration of the Number One hit singles of five recent summers. Along the way, he uses key music theory concepts to help him understand what makes some songs so likable.

Kaitie Schabl

Not Just a Blurb: A Genre Investigation in the Movie Aisle


Schable investigates the genre of movie blurbs. Blurbs are present on the back of every movie DVD case and can be easily overlooked, but as Schable discovers, they are a fascinatingly complex genre. Blurbs are used as a marketing tool, offering an interest- ing overlap between the world of cinema and the world of language. Through genre investigation, Schable shares how blurbs, though seemingly simple, actually impact the world.

Caitlin Berek

Mystery Novels: Becoming the Sherlock Holmes of  Genre Analysis


Berek uses the techniques of genre analysis to explore elements of the complex process of mystery novel writing. Discussing concepts such as cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), genre characteristics and conventions, and the notion of analyzing other productions of a genre for guidance, she dives in and breaks down the thrilling world of mystery novels.

Erika Romero

Story Summaries and Author’s Notes and Reviews, Oh My!: The Activity System of Fan Fiction


Romero explores how fan fictions function as activity systems, both as individual stories and on a website solely devoted to these fan texts. To help readers understand the various elements discussed in the article, its format has been designed to mimic that of  a story on

Samantha Ginzburg

You’ve Got Mail: Researching and Analyzing the Genre of  Postcards


Ginzburg examines how postcards can be much more than a souvenir. By exploring the history and trajectories of postcards, she suggests that the postcard is actually a complex genre and that even when a genre may look simple, there is often more to it. Ginzburg concludes by sharing how re-creating a genre helped her become a better researcher and writer.

Vanessa Garcia & Laura Skokan

When “Leaning In” Becomes “Falling on Your Face”


Garcia and Skokan team up to explore the challenges they faced in their new roles, while also addressing the genre of the Grassroots Writing Research Journal article itself and how genres require a step away from the familiar. This interview examines these shifts through cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT).

David Giovagnoli

On Space Battles, Character Development, and Overwriting: Genre Interference in Textual Role-Playing


Giovagnoli tells a literacy narrative in which he moves between creative writing and textual role-playing and then struggles when he tries to incorporate too much of one genre in the work of another.

Ally Mohs

Playing with Genre: An Interpreter’s Tale


Mohs digs deep into the way musicians prepare to play a piece of music. By looking at sheet music through the lens of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), Ally focuses on how a person can take what they learn through writing research and apply those ideas to different, incredibly complex situations, such as learning to play a piece of music.

Lisa Dooley

Mixed Messages: What Do Greeting Cards Really Say?


Dooley examines the genre of greeting cards and the outsourcing of self-expression that occurs when someone purchases a card instead of making one. As she explains her coding methodology, Dooley reflects on the choices she made, trying to decipher why she focused on certain observations.

Cody Parish

“the shit house poet strikes again”: Trials and Revelations of Bathroom Graffiti Writing Research


Parish explores bathroom graffiti, interrogating first the campus restroom spaces where the tags can be found and then the tags themselves. From his findings, Parish draws conclusions about the activity of creating bathroom graffiti, its representation and reception, and its overarching purpose.

Mac Scott

I Spy with My Little i . . .The Manifestation of  Power Dynamics


Scott discusses how power dynamics and cultural pressures construct rules about “correct” grammar and punctuation usage. Looking specifically at the capitalization (or lack thereof) of the letter I, he explores ways that “good” writing is actually determined not by one standard set of definitive rules, but by whether a writer effectively navigates the conventions of a specific genre.

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