Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Group Discussion 9/10/13: Genre

What is genre?

A "genre" is a category that defines literature, throughout which contains recurring characteristics of character, setting, theme, and the like.  A genre is highly visual or based on imagery, especially in film.  For example, a western film would not be much of a “western” if the setting was in a spaceship and the characters dressed like astronauts.  It encompasses literature, as all novels fall into a certain genre. 

Genre is certainly strongly dependent on the physical attributes.  Authors may have a certain “style”, but they can incorporate this style in multiple genres.  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is obviously fantasy, but if the physical parts were different (different characters, setting, and the like), then it would be classified into another genre.  In fact, she is currently writing detective stories; her style is not genre-specific.

What is the purpose of a genre?

It’s very money-driven.  Writers know what to include to draw people in.  People stereotype genres and this creates a strong attitude on which stereotypes are “better”.  It often could be considered a marketing strategy.  If moviemakers notice a strong draw to a particular genre, they’ll most likely make more just like it. 

How are characters defined differently in genre pieces?

It has to do with the physical aspects of the character (their appearance) as well as their motives and behavior.  They have to be pre-defined, though.  If the characters in Harry Potter were not defined as “wizards” or “witches” by the author herself, we may not classify it as a fantasy novel.  Characters remain the same throughout literature because traits from characters in prior novels are incorporated into new works.  In other words, the personality of a genre-specific character is built upon over time but still contains within him or her a strong "type".

What defines the genre of the novels we read?

A film or book can have more than one genre, but there is generally a prevailing genre.  Genre, in a way, becomes an ingredient for literature.  Authors pull from several genres and mix them together, but there should be a strong “set of rules” to help the reader experience the story.  If the author doesn’t clearly define what they hope their story to be, it may be confusing to the reader.

How does genre evolve?

Genre develops based on real world events.  American technology and lifestyle have changed dramatically over the years and you can see this transformation in film and literature.  Especially in romance for example, the roles of men and women have changed based on new equality of men and women.  Video games have become popular, thus Wreck It Ralph was recently made, and certainly wouldn’t have been made in the past.  Also, genres have evolved by mixing with each other.  Romantic comedy has become a genre in itself because both love and laughter are key components throughout.

What is the difference between literature and genre?

Literature seems to have come first - authors wrote what they wanted to write and in the past, several books were just “books”.  They weren't separated in book stores, but instead they were all simply considered "literature".  But readers started to classify them into categories.  Audiences choose the aspects of novels they like and they began to fall into categories.  Writers, in turn, see this categorization and now use it as a marketing strategy.

Genres are strongly dependent on aspects of our own personalities.  Books have unique flavor when the stories are pulled from things the author has experienced.  Novels also depend on our own personalities, as we connect to books that are comfortable and relatable.  

-Brenna, Megan, Garrett, Maurice

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