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Professionalizing the Student Body: Uptake in a Nineteenth Century Journalism Textbook

Issue: Vol 3 No. 1 (2007)

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v3i1.67


Drawing on Freadman’s (2002) elaboration of the speech act term uptake, this essay considers the significant politics of translating models of professionalism into the writing classroom by examining one of the first journalism textbooks used in American universities. Through uptake of discursive features of the discourse of Professionalization, the textbook encouraged students to adopt a submissive subjectivity amenable to the needs of the corporate newsroom. The textbook’s presentation of the news story, the central genre around which newsroom relationships were organized, underscored the reporter’s submissive role. Rather than elaborate the genre’s formal properties, the textbook presented the genre as a form of life, a complex of feelings, beliefs, behaviors, roles, and relations students must inhabit in order to perform the genre successfully. This study invites consideration of the long-term consequences both of the uptake of professionalizing discourse in educational genres and the students’ uptake of the subjectivities those genres promote.

Author: Chalet Kay Seidel

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