Writing & Pedagogy, Vol 9, No 2 (2017)

Interdisciplinary postgraduate writing: Developing genre knowledge

Kathrin Kaufhold
Issued Date: 17 Nov 2017

Abstract


Humanities departments across European universities have established an increasing number of interdisciplinary, international master’s programmes that culminate in thesis projects. Yet, the challenges of such interdisciplinary research-based writing have been largely neglected in EAP research. This article investigates how postgraduate students in interdisciplinary fields express and develop genre knowledge during an EAP course for Humanities students preparing for their thesis writing. In two case studies, the article qualitatively explores students’ perspectives on their writing along the related dimensions of disciplinary positioning and genre knowledge. Students’ explicit expressions of such knowledge in course tasks and interviews are analysed. In addition, students’ research-based writing is compared to trace manifestations of this knowledge. The results highlight the students’ use of individual reference points to evaluate writing within their heterogeneous research fields. In terms of their research-based writing, the cases illustrate two related trajectories, namely, the development from writer to topic focus and the combination of themes into a coherent argument. Tracing the textual developments reveals the significance of mapping interdisciplinary studies on the interrelated epistemological, thematic and discoursal levels in postgraduate writing. Developing an awareness of these levels requires an understanding of the situatedness of postgraduates’ writing in interdisciplinary, departmental and biographical contexts.

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DOI: 10.1558/wap.30568

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