Building block constituents

Perhaps the lowest useful building block is words (or utterances) and then clauses (where does syntax fit in this model?). It's what comes after those levels that becomes more difficult to determine. Holland (Emergence, 1998) notes that poetry (and I include writing in general) has a looser framework than physics, which allows for a tight integration of building blocks. In Hidden Order, he gives the example of quarks, nucleons, atoms, molecules, organelles, cells, and so on, to show the integration of building blocks at different levels. Poetry's looseness, he says, "limits the possibilities for a cumulative structure," although not making it impossible.

For building blocks, I mentioned the questions of stasis theory below, perhaps in combination with Meier's Habits of Mind. Almost all academic texts would include these questions, or assume them in some fashion, and they seem to be natural ways in categorizing thinking, and so perhaps writing. If these are good building blocks, then we should see how various interactions/combinations of them can generate what we see at a higher level, if it exists. One emergent level should be genre.

Another potential contender, one I'm not familiar with, is Halliday's functional model with its concepts of ideational, interpersonal, and textual semantics. Gordon Wells (Dialogic Inquiry, 1999) interestingly tied it into activity theory's levels of operation, action, and activity.

Similar to building blocks are activity theorist Davydov's germ cell concepts in his "Ascending from the abstract to the concrete." This approach starts with students discovering primary general concepts in a particular discipline, investigating those concepts across particular contexts, and in the process retrace/recreate the process through which people developed the present day concepts.