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Title: Death notice as a genre : an analysis of the New York Times online edition
Other Titles: Nekrolog jako gatunek tekstu : analiza wydania internetowego The New York Times
Authors: Cebrat, Grzegorz
Advisor: Mamet, Piotr
Keywords: nekrologi; nekrologi w prasie; prasa; Stany Zjednoczone; The New York Times
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Katowice : Uniwersytet Śląski
Abstract: The thesis presents an analysis of the death notice as a genre, which has been conducted by applying the research models of genre analysis designed by John Swales and Vijay K. Bhatia, and taxonomy of Polish death notices by Jacek Kolbuszewski. This in-depth structural analysis is based on a large corpus of texts (1843 texts consisting of 210,021 words), containing all death notices published in the online edition of The New York Times in a threemonth period (October 1st, 2012 – December 31st, 2012), and downloaded from (the leading global provider of online obituaries and death notices). The analysis involves identifying subgenres of the death notice and their communicative purposes, applying the Move and Steps analytical model to investigate the macrostructure of each subgenre of the death notice and its variants, and carrying out a register analysis, based on lexical and syntactic study with the aim of discovering patterns and lexemes characteristic of each move and/or step. Contrary to the well-researched staff-edited obituary, the genre of American death notice, written by non-professional authors (e.g. relatives, friends, employers or colleagues of the deceased) has not been thoroughly investigated; therefore, it is believed that the thesis will not only make a valuable contribution to the understanding of the genre in question, but it can be used as a reference manual helping prospective writers create a death notice in accordance with the American traditions and rules of the genre. The thesis consists of a theoretical part (Chapters One to Four) and a research part (Chapters Five to Eight). Chapter One revolves around the concepts of discourse, text and genre, and presents an overview of their theories. Chapter Two investigates the American discourse of death; it concentrates on the issue of death as a language taboo and various ways of coping with it, and provides a historical overview of numerous genres commemorating the dead. Chapter Three focuses on the both genres in question; it outlines their origin and evolution in the early British press, and summarizes contemporary research into them. Chapter Four introduces the research part as it discusses the corpus and principles of its division into subcorpora, the research model and applied methodology, and presents the discourse community and communicative purposes. Each of the four chapters constituting the research part deals with the Move and Step analysis of one of four subgenres of the death notice: informative (Chapter Five), farewell (Chapter Six), condolence (Chapter Seven), and anniversary (Chapter Eight); their lexico-structural analysis is illustrated with numerous excerpts from the respective sub-corpora. The Conclusion summarizes the research, and provides implications for future projects. The research has shown that the death notice is a highly conventionalized genre, deeply rooted in American culture and funeral tradition. While presenting biographies of the deceased (always in a positive way, according to the classical rule de mortuis nihil nisi bene), the American death notice emphasizes those specific periods and aspects of their lives (education, professional, political or military career, private life), accomplishments and traits that are valued and respected, and should be imitated by other members of the community. A notice usually contains a lengthy hierarchical list of relatives, both the predeceased and survivors. Each subgenre can be characterized by a specific set of communicative purposes, which are accomplished by a sequence of moves and steps. The commonest subgenre, the informative notice, continues the oldest traditions of the genre by informing the community about a person’s death (optionally its circumstances) and the date and place of the funeral and other services. The style and content of the farewell notice and the condolence notice depend on authorship: highly conventionalized formal institutional notices contrast with more original and intimate private ones. Their authors, whether representatives of an institution or relatives, friends, colleagues, etc., express their loss and grief, praise lives and deeds of the deceased, emphasize their importance for the authors or institution, and, in the case of the condolence notice, they offer their sympathy. The anniversary notice, the rarest subgenre, commemorates the anniversary of decedent’s birth or death, and frequently reminds the community about never-ending love and remembrance of its authors. A significant number of farewell and anniversary notices are addressed to the deceased themselves, the ‘virtual readers,’ which affects their structure and style. The register analysis displays a high level of intertextuality: non-professional obituarists tend to use conventional and stereotypical lexicon, phrases and structures, or even templates (they may copy or imitate other texts and study models provided in obituary manuals). There is no substantial evidence that the Internet has affected the genre: only few texts include hyperlinks that direct to the memorial sites at, where particular groups of the dead are commemorated (e.g. war veterans, university graduates, breast cancer victims).
Appears in Collections:Rozprawy doktorskie (W.Hum.)

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