The essays in this collection represent a newly emerging field of scholarship in North America: genre studies. For those familiar either with traditional conceptions of genre or with the recent work on genre associated with the Sydney School in Australia, the approach to genre in this volume will require explanation on our part and rethinking on yours. The introduction that follows is intended to offer some of the necessary orienting explanation. We believe the rethinking entailed well worth the effort for teachers, researchers, and students of language in general; current reconceptualizations of genre can enlarge our understanding of how it is and why it is that we produce the kinds of discourse that we do-in our classrooms, in our boardrooms and workshops, and across the range of situations in which the diversity of culture realizes itself within a society.