Time and Exigence in Temporal Genres

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Genre use entails a rhetorical response to an exigence in the writer's context. In one category of genres, which the author calls temporal genres, linear time constitutes a major exigence to which writers must respond. Temporal genres, such as annual reports and status reports, call for writers to publish texts because a certain amount of time has passed, even if they are not yet ready to do so. The first annual report of the Privacy Office of the Department of Homeland Security reveals an ineffective ethos and discontinuities between the mission of the office and that of the department. But the second annual report reveals a more effective ethos and greater harmony between the missions. This study shows how the requirement to report can force writers to decide existential issues of identity and mission.