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Genre () is any form or type of
communication Communication (from la, communicare, meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is usually defined as the transmission of information. The term may also refer to the message communicated through such transmissions or the field of inquir ...

communication
in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a
category Category, plural categories, may refer to: Philosophy and general uses *Categorization, categories in cognitive science, information science and generally *Category of being *Categories (Aristotle), ''Categories'' (Aristotle) *Category (Kant) ...
of
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...

literature
,
music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact definition of music, definitions of mu ...

music
, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, yet genres can be aesthetic, rhetorical, communicative, or functional. Genres form by conventions that change over time as cultures invent new genres and discontinue the use of old ones. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions. Stand-alone texts, works, or pieces of communication may have individual styles, but genres are amalgams of these texts based on agreed-upon or socially inferred conventions. Some genres may have rigid, strictly adhered-to guidelines, while others may show great flexibility. Genre began as an absolute classification system for
ancient Greek literature Ancient Greek literature is literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent ...
, as set out in Aristotle's ''Poetics''. For Aristotle,
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...

poetry
( odes, epics, etc.),
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...

prose
, and
performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. Management science In the work place ...

performance
each had specific design features that supported appropriate content of each genre. Speech patterns for comedy would not be appropriate for tragedy, for example, and even actors were restricted to their genre under the assumption that a type of person could tell one type of story best. Genres proliferate and develop beyond Aristotle’s classifications in response to changes in audiences and creators. Genre has become a dynamic tool to help the public make sense out of unpredictability through artistic expression. Given that art is often a response to a social state, in that people write, paint, sing, dance, and otherwise produce art about what they know about, the use of genre as a tool must be able to adapt to changing meanings. Musician Ezra LaFleur argues that discussion of genre should draw from
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrians, Austrian-British people, British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy o ...

Ludwig Wittgenstein
's idea of
family resemblance Family resemblance (german: Familienähnlichkeit, link=no) is a philosophical idea made popular by Ludwig Wittgenstein, with the best known exposition given in his posthumously published book ''Philosophical Investigations'' (1953). It argues tha ...
. Genres are helpful labels for communicating but do not necessarily have a single attribute that is the essence of the genre.


Visual arts

The term ''genre'' is much used in the history and criticism of visual art, but in
art history Art history is the study of aesthetic objects and visual expression in History, historical and stylistic context. Traditionally, the discipline of art history emphasized painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, ceramics and decorative arts; y ...

art history
has meanings that overlap rather confusingly.
Genre painting Genre painting (or petit genre), a form of genre art, depicts aspects of everyday life by portraying ordinary people engaged in common activities. One common definition of a genre scene is that it shows figures to whom no identity can be attached ...
is a term for paintings where the main subject features human figures to whom no specific identity attachesin other words, figures are not portraits, characters from a story, or allegorical personifications. These are distinguished from
staffage In painting, staffage () are the human and animal figures depicted in a scene, especially a landscape painting, landscape, that are not the primary subject matter of the work. Typically they are small, and there to add an indication of scale and a ...
: incidental figures in what is primarily a
landscape A landscape is the visible features of an area of Terrestrial ecoregion, land, its landforms, and how they integrate with Nature, natural or man-made features, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.''New Oxford American Dictionar ...
or architectural painting. ''Genre painting'' may also be used as a wider term covering genre painting proper, and other specialized types of paintings such as
still-life A still life (plural: still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly wikt:inanimate, inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, shells, etc.) or artificiality, m ...

still-life
, landscapes, marine paintings and animal paintings. The concept of the "
hierarchy of genres A hierarchy of genres is any formalization which ranks different genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time ...
" was a powerful one in artistic theory, especially between the 17th and 19th centuries. It was strongest in France, where it was associated with the
Académie française An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, higher learning (and generally also research or honorary membershi ...
which held a central role in
academic art Academic art, or academicism or academism, is a style of painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "support"). The medium is commonly applied to the ...
. The genres in hierarchical order are: *
History painting History painting is a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than any artistic style or specific period. History paintings depict a moment in a narrative story, most often (but not exclusively) Greek and Roman mythology and Bible ...
, including narrative, religious, mythological and allegorical subjects *
Portrait painting Portrait Painting is a Hierarchy of genres, genre in painting, where the intent is to represent a specific human subject. The term 'portrait painting' can also describe the actual painted portrait. Portraitists may create their work by commissi ...

Portrait painting
* Genre painting or scenes of everyday life * Landscape (landscapists were the "common
footmen A footman is a male domestic worker employed mainly to wait at table or attend a coach or carriage. Etymology Originally in the 14th century a footman denoted a soldier or any pedestrian, later it indicated a foot servant. A running footman deli ...

footmen
in the Army of Art" according to the Dutch theorist
Samuel van Hoogstraten Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten (2 August 1627, in Dordrecht – 19 October 1678, in Dordrecht) was a Dutch painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Golden Age, who was also a poet and author on art theory. Biography Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten trained ...
) and cityscape * Animal painting *
Still life A still life (plural: still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly wikt:inanimate, inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, shells, etc.) or artificiality, m ...

Still life


Literature

A literary ''genre'' is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by
literary technique A narrative technique (known for literary fictional narratives as a literary technique, literary device, or fictional device) is any of several specific methods the creator of a narrative uses to convey what they want —in other words, a stra ...
, tone, content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length. Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult,
young adult A young adult is generally a person in the years following adolescence. Definitions and opinions on what qualifies as a young adult vary, with works such as Erik Erikson's Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, stages of human development ...
, or
children's
children's
. They also must not be confused with format, such as
graphic novel A graphic novel is a long-form, fictional work of sequential art. The term ''graphic novel'' is often applied broadly, including fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work, though this practice is highly contested by comic scholars and industry ...

graphic novel
or picture book. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups. The most general genres in literature are (in loose chronological order) epic,
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. ...

tragedy
,
comedy Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...

comedy
,
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself ...

novel
, and
short story A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a single effect or mood. The short story is one of the oldest t ...
. They can all be in the genres
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...

prose
or
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...

poetry
, which shows best how loosely genres are defined. Additionally, a genre such as
satire Satire is a genre of the visual arts, visual, literature, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently Nonfiction, non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ...
might appear in any of the above, not only as a subgenre but as a mixture of genres. Finally, they are defined by the general
cultural movement A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art Art is a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative talent express ...
of the
historical period Human history, also called world history, is the narrative of humanity's past. It is understood and studied through anthropology, archaeology, genetics, and linguistics. Since the History of writing, invention of writing, human history has b ...
in which they were composed. In popular fiction, which is especially divided by genres,
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fiction, fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre ...
is the more usual term. In
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...

literature
, genre has been known as an intangible
taxonomy Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorization or classification (general theory), classification. A taxonomy (or taxonomical classification) is a scheme of classification, especially a hierarchical classification, in which things are ...
. This taxonomy implies a concept of containment or that an idea will be stable forever. The earliest recorded systems of genre in
Western history
Western history
can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle. Gérard Genette, a French literary theorist and author of ''The Architext'', describes Plato as creating three Imitational genres: dramatic dialogue, pure narrative, and epic (a mixture of dialogue and narrative).
Lyric poetry Modern lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. It is not equivalent to song lyrics, though song lyrics are often in the lyric mode, and it is also ''not'' equi ...
, the fourth and final type of
Greek literature Greek literature () dates back from the ancient Greek literature, beginning in 800 BC, to the modern Greek literature of today. Ancient Greek literature was written in an Ancient Greek dialect, literature ranges from the oldest surviving writte ...
, was excluded by Plato as a non-mimetic mode. Aristotle later revised Plato's system by eliminating the pure narrative as a viable mode and distinguishing by two additional criteria: the object to be imitated, as objects could be either superior or inferior, and the medium of presentation such as words, gestures or verse. Essentially, the three categories of mode, object, and medium dialogue, epic (superior-mixed narrative),
comedy Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...

comedy
(inferior-dramatic dialogue), and
parody A parody, also known as a spoof, a satire, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or mock its subject by means of satire, satiric or irony, ironic imitation. ...
(inferior-mixed narrative). Genette continues by explaining the later integration of lyric poetry into the classical system during the romantic period, replacing the now removed pure narrative mode. Lyric poetry, once considered non-mimetic, was deemed to imitate feelings, becoming the third leg of a new tripartite system: lyrical, epical, and dramatic dialogue. This system, which came to "dominate all the literary theory of German romanticism (and therefore well beyond)…" (38), has seen numerous attempts at expansion or revision. However, more ambitious efforts to expand the tripartite system resulted in new taxonomic systems of increasing scope and complexity. Genette reflects upon these various systems, comparing them to the original tripartite arrangement: "its structure is somewhat superior to…those that have come after, fundamentally flawed as they are by their inclusive and hierarchical taxonomy, which each time immediately brings the whole game to a standstill and produces an impasse" (74). Taxonomy allows for a structured classification system of genre, as opposed to a more contemporary rhetorical model of genre.


Film

The basic genres of film can be regarded as drama, in the
feature film A feature film or feature-length film is a narrative film, narrative film (motion picture or "movie") with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole presentation in a commercial entertainment program. The term ''feature f ...
and most
cartoon A cartoon is a type of visual art that is typically drawn, frequently animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to either: an image or series of image ...

cartoon
s, and
documentary
documentary
. Most dramatic feature films, especially from
Hollywood Hollywood usually refers to: * Hollywood, Los Angeles, a neighborhood in California * Hollywood, a metonym for the cinema of the United States Hollywood may also refer to: Places United States * Hollywood District (disambiguation) * Hollywood, ...
fall fairly comfortably into one of a long list of film genres such as the Western,
war film War film is a film genre concerned with warfare, typically about navy, naval, air force, air, or army, land battles, with combat scenes central to the drama. It has been strongly associated with the 20th century. The fateful nature of battle s ...
,
horror film Horror is a film genre that seeks to elicit fear or disgust in its audience for entertainment purposes. Horror films often explore dark subject matter and may deal with Transgressive art, transgressive topics or themes. Broad elements includ ...
, romantic comedy film,
musical Musical is the adjective of music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact def ...
,
crime film Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve various aspects of crime and its detection. Stylistically, the genre may overlap and combine ...
, and many others. Many of these genres have a number of subgenres, for example by setting or subject, or a distinctive national style, for example in the Indian
Bollywood Hindi cinema, popularly known as Bollywood and formerly as Bombay cinema, refers to the film industry based in Mumbai, engaged in production of motion pictures in Hindi language. The popular term Bollywood, is a portmanteau of "Bombay" (fo ...

Bollywood
musical.


Music

A music genre is a conventional category that identifies pieces of
music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact definition of music, definitions of mu ...

music
as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''
musical form In music, ''form'' refers to the structure of a musical composition or musical improvisation, performance. In his book, ''Worlds of Music'', Jeff Todd Titon suggests that a number of organizational elements may determine the formal structure of a ...
'' and ''musical style'', although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. There are numerous genres in Western
classical music Classical music generally refers to the art music of the Western world, considered to be #Relationship to other music traditions, distinct from Western folk music or popular music traditions. It is sometimes distinguished as Western classical m ...

classical music
and
popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training.Popular Music. (2015). ''Funk ...
, as well as
musical theatre Musical theatre is a form of theatre, theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through words, music, ...
and the music of non-Western cultures. The term is now perhaps over-used to describe relatively small differences in musical style in modern
rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, developing into a range of different styles in the mid-1960s and later, particularly in the United States and ...
, that also may reflect sociological differences in their audiences. Timothy Laurie suggests that in the context of rock and pop music studies, the "appeal of genre criticism is that it makes narratives out of musical worlds that often seem to lack them". Music can be divided into different genres in several ways. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications are often arbitrary and controversial, and some genres may overlap. There are several academic approaches to genres. In his book ''Form in Tonal Music'', Douglass M. Green lists
madrigal A madrigal is a form of secular vocal music most typical of the Renaissance music, Renaissance (15th–16th c.) and early Baroque music, Baroque (1600–1750) periods, although revisited by some later European composers. The Polyphony, polyphoni ...
,
motet In Western classical music, a motet is mainly a vocal musical composition, of highly diverse form and style, from high medieval music to the present. The motet was one of the pre-eminent polyphonic forms of Renaissance music. According to Margare ...
,
canzona The canzona is an Italian musical form derived from the Franco-Flemish and Parisian Chanson#Renaissance chanson, chansons, and during Giovanni Gabrieli's lifetime was frequently spelled canzona, though both earlier and later the singular was spel ...
,
ricercar A ricercar ( , ) or ricercare ( , ) is a type of late Renaissance music, Renaissance and mostly early Baroque music, Baroque instrumental composition. The term ''ricercar'' derives from the Italian verb which means 'to search out; to seek'; many r ...
, and dance as examples of genres from the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...
period. According to Green, "Beethoven's ''Op. 61'' and Mendelssohn's ''Op. 64'' are identical in genre – both are violin concertos – but different in form. However, Mozart's ''Rondo for Piano, K. 511'', and the ''Agnus Dei'' from his ''Mass, K. 317'' are quite different in genre but happen to be similar in form." Some, like Peter van der Merwe, treat the terms ''genre'' and ''style'' as the same, saying that ''genre'' should be defined as pieces of music that share a certain style or "basic musical language". Others, such as Allan F. Moore, state that ''genre'' and ''style'' are two separate terms, and that secondary characteristics such as subject matter can also differentiate between genres.Moore, Allan F
"Categorical Conventions in Music Discourse: Style and Genre"
''Music & Letters'', Vol. 82, No. 3 (Aug. 2001), pp. 432–442.
A music genre or subgenre may be defined by the musical techniques, the styles, the context, and content and spirit of the themes. Geographical origin is sometimes used to identify a music genre, though a single geographical category will often include a wide variety of subgenres. Several music scholars have criticized the priority accorded to genre-based communities and listening practices. For example, Laurie argues that "music genres do not belong to isolated, self-sufficient communities. People constantly move between environments where diverse forms of music are heard, advertised and accessorised with distinctive iconographies, narratives and celebrity identities that also touch on non-musical worlds."


In Popular culture and other media

The concept of genre is often applied, sometimes rather loosely, to other media with an artistic element, such as
video game genres A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it is played rather than Computer graphics, visual or narrative elements. This is independent of setting (fiction), setting, unlike works of fiction that are expressed ...
. Genre, and numerous minutely divided subgenres, affect popular culture very significantly, not least as they are used to classify it for publicity purposes. The vastly increased output of popular culture in the age of electronic media encourages dividing cultural products by genre to simplify the search for products by consumers, a trend the Internet has only intensified.


Linguistics

In
philosophy of language In analytic philosophy, philosophy of language investigates the nature of language and the relations between language, language users, and the world. Investigations may include inquiry into the nature of Meaning (philosophy of language), meanin ...
, genre figures prominently in the works of philosopher and literary scholar
Mikhail Bakhtin Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin ( ; rus, Михаи́л Миха́йлович Бахти́н, , mʲɪxɐˈil mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪdʑ bɐxˈtʲin; – 7 March 1975) was a Russian philosopher, literary critic and scholar who worked on literary th ...
. Bakhtin's basic observations were of "speech genres" (the idea of heteroglossia), modes of speaking or writing that people learn to mimic, weave together, and manipulate (such as "formal letter" and "grocery list", or "university lecture" and "personal anecdote"). In this sense, genres are socially specified: recognized and defined (often informally) by a particular culture or community. The work of Georg Lukács also touches on the nature of
literary genre A literary genre is a category of literature. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or length (especially for fiction). They generally move from more abstract, encompassing classes, which a ...
s, appearing separately but around the same time (1920s–1930s) as Bakhtin. Norman Fairclough has a similar concept of genre that emphasizes the social context of the text: Genres are "different ways of (inter)acting discoursally" (Fairclough, 2003: 26). A text's genre may be determined by its: # Linguistic function. # Formal traits. # Textual organization. # Relation of communicative situation to formal and organizational traits of the text (Charaudeau and Maingueneau, 2002:278–280).


Rhetoric

In the field of
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
, genre theorists usually understand genres as types of actions rather than types or forms of texts.Bawarshi, A. S., & Mary Jo Reiff. (2010)
Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy.
chs. 5 and 6
On this perspective, texts are channels through which genres are enacted. Carolyn Miller's work has been especially important for this perspective. Drawing on Lloyd Bitzer's concept of rhetorical situation, Miller reasons that recurring rhetorical problems tend to elicit recurring responses; drawing on Alfred Schütz, she reasons that these recurring responses become "typified" – that is, socially constructed as recognizable types. Miller argues that these "typified rhetorical actions" (p. 151) are properly understood as genres. Building off of Miller, Charles Bazerman and Clay Spinuzzi have argued that genres understood as actions derive their meaning from other genres – that is, other actions. Bazerman therefore proposes that we analyze genres in terms of "genre systems", while Spinuzzi prefers the closely related concept of "genre ecologies". Reiff and Bawarshi define genre analysis as a critical reading of people's patterns of communication in different situations. This tradition has had implications for the teaching of writing in American colleges and universities. Combining rhetorical genre theory with activity theory, David Russell has proposed that standard English composition courses are ill-suited to teach the genres that students will write in other contexts across the university and beyond. Elizabeth Wardle contends that standard composition courses do teach genres, but that these are inauthentic "mutt genres" that are often of little use outside of composition courses. Genre is effective as a tool in rhetoric because it allows a speaker to set the context for a rhetorical discussion. Devitt, Reiff, and Bawarshi suggest that rhetorical genres may be assigned based off of careful analysis of the subject matter and consideration of the audience. Genre is related to Ludwig Wittgenstein's theory of
Family resemblance Family resemblance (german: Familienähnlichkeit, link=no) is a philosophical idea made popular by Ludwig Wittgenstein, with the best known exposition given in his posthumously published book ''Philosophical Investigations'' (1953). It argues tha ...
in which he describes how genres act like a family tree, where members of a family are related, but not exact copies of one another.


History

This concept of genre originated from the classification systems created by
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
. Plato divided
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...

literature
into the three classic genres accepted in
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
:
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...

poetry
,
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
, and
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...

prose
.
Poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
is further subdivided into epic, lyric, and
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
. The divisions are recognized as being set by
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
and
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
; however, they were not the only ones. Many genre theorists added to these accepted forms of
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...

poetry
.


Classical and Romance genre theory

The earliest recorded systems of genre in Western history can be traced back to
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
. Gérard Genette explains his interpretation of the history of genre in "The Architext". He described Plato as the creator of three imitational, mimetic genres distinguished by mode of imitation rather than content. These three imitational genres include dramatic dialogue, the
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
; pure narrative, the
dithyramb The dithyramb (; grc, διθύραμβος, ''dithyrambos'') was an Ancient Greece, ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility; the term was also used as an epithet of the god. Plato, in ''Laws (dialogu ...
; and a mixture of the two, the epic. Plato excluded
lyric poetry Modern lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. It is not equivalent to song lyrics, though song lyrics are often in the lyric mode, and it is also ''not'' equi ...
as a non-mimetic, imitational mode. Genette further discussed how Aristotle revised Plato's system by first eliminating the pure narrative as a viable mode. He then uses two additional criteria to distinguish the system. The first of the criteria is the object to be imitated, whether superior or inferior. The second criterion is the medium of presentation: words, gestures, or verse. Essentially, the three categories of mode,
object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy) An object is a philosophy, philosophical term often used in contrast to the term ''Subject (philosophy), subject''. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For mo ...
, and medium can be visualized along an XYZ axis. Excluding the criteria of medium, Aristotle's system distinguished four types of classical genres:
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. ...

tragedy
, epic,
comedy Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...

comedy
, and
parody A parody, also known as a spoof, a satire, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or mock its subject by means of satire, satiric or irony, ironic imitation. ...
. Genette explained the integration of lyric poetry into the classical system by replacing the removed pure narrative mode.
Lyric poetry Modern lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. It is not equivalent to song lyrics, though song lyrics are often in the lyric mode, and it is also ''not'' equi ...
, once considered non-mimetic, was deemed to imitate feelings, becoming the third "Architext", a term coined by Gennette, of a new long-enduring tripartite system: lyrical; epical, the mixed narrative; and dramatic, the dialogue. This new system that came to "dominate all the literary theory of German romanticism" (Genette 38) has seen numerous attempts at expansion and revision. Such attempts include Friedrich Schlegel's triad of subjective form, the lyric; objective form, the dramatic; and subjective-objective form, the epic. However, more ambitious efforts to expand the tripartite system resulted in new taxonomic systems of increasing complexity. Gennette reflected upon these various systems, comparing them to the original tripartite arrangement: "its structure is somewhat superior to most of those that have come after, fundamentally flawed as they are by their inclusive and hierarchical taxonomy, which each time immediately brings the whole game to a standstill and produces an impasse".


Audiences

Although genres are not always precisely definable, genre considerations are one of the most important factors in determining what a person will see or read. The classification properties of genre can attract or repel potential users depending on the individual's understanding of a genre. Genre creates an expectation in that expectation is met or not. Many genres have built-in audiences and corresponding publications that support them, such as
magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication, generally published on a regular schedule (often weekly or monthly), containing a variety of content (media), content. They are generally financed by advertising, newsagent's shop, ...
s and websites. Inversely, audiences may call out for change in an antecedent genre and create an entirely new genre. The term may be used in categorizing web pages, like "news page" and "fan page", with both very different layout, audience, and intention (Rosso, 2008). Some search engines like Vivísimo try to group found web pages into automated categories in an attempt to show various genres the search hits might fit.


Subgenre

A subgenre is a
subordinate A hierarchy (from Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) that are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy is an important ...
within a genre. Two stories being the same genre can still sometimes differ in subgenre. For example, if a
fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy ...
story has darker and more frightening elements of fantasy, it would belong in the subgenre of
dark fantasy Dark fantasy is a subgenre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a category of ...
; whereas another fantasy story that features
magic sword In mythology, legend or fiction, a magic sword is a sword with magic (paranormal), magical powers or other supernatural qualities. Renowned swords appear in the folklore of every nation that used swords.Josepha Sherman, ''Once upon a Galaxy'' p ...
s and wizards would belong to the subgenre of
sword and sorcery Sword and sorcery (S&S) is a subgenre of fantasy characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent adventures. Elements of Romance (love), romance, Magic (fantasy), magic, and the supernatural are also often present. Unlik ...
.


Microgenre

A
microgenre A microgenre is a specialized or niche genre. The term has been used since at least the 1970s to describe highly specific subgenres of music, literature, film, and art. In music, examples include the myriad sub-subgenres of heavy metal music, heav ...
is a highly specialized, narrow classification of a cultural practice. The term has come into usage in the 21st century, and most commonly refers to music. It is also associated with the hyper-specific categories used in recommendations for television shows and movies on digital streaming platforms such as
Netflix Netflix, Inc. is an American video on demand#Subscription models, subscription video on-demand Over-the-top media service, over-the-top Streaming media, streaming service and production company based in Los Gatos, California. Founded in 1997 b ...
, and is sometimes used more broadly by scholars analyzing niche forms in other periods and other media.


See also

*
List of genres This is a list of genres of Literary genre, literature and entertainment (Film genre, film, television, Music genre, music, and Video game genre, video games), excluding :Visual arts genres, genres in the visual arts. ''Genre'' is the term for ...


References


Citations


Sources

* * * Charaudeau, P.; Maingueneau, D. and Adam, J. ''Dictionnaire d'analyse du discours''. Seuil, 2002. * Devitt, Amy J. "A Theory of Genre". ''Writing Genres''. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2004. 1–32. * Fairclough, Norman. ''Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research''. Routledge, 2003. * Genette, Gérard. ''The Architext: An Introduction''. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. 979* Jamieson, Kathleen M. "Antecedent Genre as Rhetorical Constraint". ''Quarterly Journal of Speech'' 61 (1975): 406–415. * Killoran, John B. "The Gnome In The Front Yard and Other Public Figurations: Genres of Self-Presentation on Personal Home Pages". Biography 26.1 (2003): 66–83. * LaCapra, Dominick. "History and Genre: Comment". ''New Literary History'' 17.2 (1986): 219–221. * Miller, Carolyn. "Genre as Social Action". ''Quarterly Journal of Speech''. 70 (1984): 151–67. * Rosso, Mark. "User-based Identification of Web Genres". ''Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology'' 59 (2008): 1053–1072. * Todorov, Tzvetan. "The Origins of Genre". ''New Literary History'' 8.1 (1976): 159-170.


Further reading

* Pare, Anthony. "Genre and Identity". ''The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre: Strategies for Stability and Change''. Eds. Richard M. Coe, Lorelei Lingard, and Tatiana Teslenko. Creskill, N.J.: Hampton Press, 2002. * Sullivan, Ceri (2007) "Disposable elements? Indications of genre in early modern titles", ''Modern Language Review'' 102.3, pp. 641–653


External links


Genres of film
at the
Internet Movie Database IMDb (an abbreviation of Internet Movie Database) is an online database of information related to films, television series, home videos, video games, and streaming content online – including cast, production crew and personal biographies, ...

Helping Children Understand Literary Genres



Museum of Broadcast Communications

Dictionary.com
{{Music genres Fiction Narratology Theme