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Academic reading: Introduction


Genre is a stylistic category of art, music or literature, a set of characteristics that make a type of cultural product distinctive and recognizable. Recognizing genre is part of reading, whether consciously or unconsciously. Genre provides us with certain expectations. The “Once Upon a Time…” fairy tale trope promises those elements of setting, character, narrative action, and moral message that we are used to and that we desire. We may enjoy it when the genre conventions are subverted – witness our fondness for parody – but we do like our preconceptions to be confirmed.

By the end of this module, you will ...

  • be able to read more effectively;
  • be able to read more efficiently;
  • know what to expect when seeing a text;
  • recognize text features of certain academic genres.

Why is awareness of genre important?

When you are studying, you will be reading different types of texts, such as textbooks, academic essays, reports, or high-standard journalism. If you are aware of the genre features of those different types of text, you will be able to read more effectively and more efficiently. In other words, knowing what to expect and being able to recognize text features helps your reading.

Watch the video below for an introduction into Genre & Text structure.


What are some examples of genres in writing and what are the characteristics associated with each?

Genres Characteristics

Test your genre recognition skills with the following exercise:

Which genre of writing does each extract come from? In each case, note for yourself the features of the language, style and format that led you to identify a particular genre.

Look at the key after having identified the features and genre.

Extract 1

Extract 2

Extract 3

Extract 4

Extract 5

Understanding features of genre (such as content, language, layout and structure) is learned at a relatively young age. It helps readers to better understand the writer’s aim, adjust the way they read, navigate through the text, and extract the information that they need. In the next section, we will examine how that works for academic reading.