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PublisherRoutledge and Taylor and Francis Group
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This chapter aims to unravel the complex array of academic events, called seminars, drawing on the literature and research carried out in the past decades. As seminar tends to be an umbrella term encompassing different realities, two main strands of research are identified. In fact, two different genres can be said to exist even though they are both academic and research-process genres (Swales 1990, 2004; Weissberg 1993). The first is strictly speaking a pedagogic genre that mainly involves small-group interactive teaching and discussion; other labels (e.g. tutorials, colloquia) are sometimes used in different universities. This seminar is usually known as graduate/postgraduate seminar in US universities, while a common type of seminar in the UK is the student-led seminar, in which one or several students are asked to prepare and lead a seminar on a topic they have been studying or researching. In turns, the students share the role of leader. Thus, seminars are used to further disciplinary acculturation of graduate students and they tend to be culminating tasks of courses, providing student speakers with the opportunity to explain and discuss their scholarly work. This type of seminar has been researched from diverse approaches (CA, ethnography, sociolinguistics, genre analysis, etc.) and perspectives: degree of planned /unplanned speech, rhetorical structure, use of metadiscourse and signposting expressions, type of register, tone and formality adopted or as a site of competition for the floor. Among factors affecting oral participation and quantity/quality of participation we find proficiency, cultural and educational background, identity, previous reading, discussion strategies in peer-to-peer interaction, or supportive behaviour participants roles that help participants work collegially when co-constructing knowledge. The other type of seminar is an expert-to-expert extended monologue where an invited speaker informally disseminates his/her research, usually at another university. The speaker addresses a small audience made up of teaching and research staff and doctoral students on a topic he has recently researched or is researching. This second type is a hybrid (Aguilar 2004, 2008), research-process genre (Swales 2004) sharing features with other spoken genres in Dubois’ continuum (1987), like conference presentations, colloquia or local meetings, but also sharing some features with lectures. These seminars tend to occur in an intermediary stage prior to the published journal article, thus providing us with some insight into the developmental process of science, an instance of Bazerman’s informal dissemination of science (1983). Finally, some under-researched topics are going to be pointed to, such as online seminars and expert-to-expert seminars in general.
CitationAguilar Perez, Marta. Seminars. A: "The routledge handbook of english for specific pursposes". Londres: Routledge and Taylor and Francis Group, 2016, p. 335-347.