Dialogic authorial academic language learning An alternative to genre pedagogy

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Mark Philip Smith


This paper reenvisions academic language learning in the university from a dialogic authorial perspective inspired by the work of Bakhtin. I argue that language pedagogues have misappropriated the radical alternative Bakhtin poses for language learning in his critique of genre through adopting a Vygotskyian internalization approach to discourse and a post-structuralist interpretation of Bakhtinian dialogic discourse as intertextuality. I explore how genre pedagogy has adopted these misunderstandings of Bakhtin to prioritize students’ and scholars’ socialization within pre-existing, commonly accepted, shared, authoritative patterns of discourse. I claim that genre pedagogy tends to legitimize the practice of university writing curricula to postpone students’ engagement in meaning making, focusing on training over education. I explore the consequence of this prioritization on socialization and training in form for suppressing students’ dialogic addressivity to and problematization of the ideas of others, which is an essential for meaningful academic discourse. By contrast, a dialogic authorial approach to language learning prioritizes education through students’ and scholars’ ontological engagement in posing problems and authoring meaning in communion with others. The expectation is for language forms to become a necessary byproduct of the production of utterances that are meaningful to oneself and responsive to others. When focused on meaning, academic language forms become invisible except when there are challenges with intelligibility or modality. I argue for a radical rethinking of university language learning curricula in terms of a focus on voice and the “stylistics” of form to serve meaning making.

Article Details

How to Cite
Smith, M. P. (2022). Dialogic authorial academic language learning: An alternative to genre pedagogy. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 10, A65-A87. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2022.495
Author Biography

Mark Philip Smith, Kean University

Mark Philip Smith, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of English as a Second Language in the School of English Studies at Kean University. His interests include critical, dialogic authorial approaches to language learning, sexuality and gender education, drama in education, and cultural diversity education. He is interested in addressing issues of social exclusion and bullying in K12 contexts from a Bakhtinian dialogic event perspective. He has also explored issues of academic integrity in university settings from a similar perspective. Mark is also interested in teachers’ valuation of dialogue in their classrooms, both as an espoused value and a value “in-action” (cf. Argyris & Schön, 1974). He has explored what arrests and what affords pedagogical authorial dialogue in classroom settings. He is notably interested in the possibilities for authorial learning agency within informal “free-choice learning environments” (Falk & Dierking, 2000; 2002) and in drama, and has had experience working within afterschool-based practicum settings for undergraduate teacher education in cultural diversity. He lives in New York City and is active in the transportation alternatives movement.


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