09/04/2012 McElroy - WEPO

SRR on Introduction by Chandler and Letters and Social Grounding of Differentiated Genres

Chandler said that people often disagree about what defines certain genres and what their roles may be. “Genre is ultimately an abstract conception rather than something that exists empirically in the world,” notes Jane Feuer (1992, 144) There are many different kinds of ways of determining genres. They may be determined by the intended audience, (eg. BET is intended for an African American audience. Therefore it may be put into a genre of African American entertainment.), by structure (eg. Narrative), venue (drive in), technological presentation of format (eg, 3D or silent film), etc. The potential guidelines are essentially limitless as long as the movies in question share at least one vague characteristic. “Robert Stam identifies four key problems with generic labels (in relation to film): extension (the breadth or narrowness of labels);” (as a musician, I always say that I never want to be limited to one genre. I think great artists of any kind think that way. “normativism (having preconceived ideas of criteria for genre membership)” (This is where stereotypes in art come from); “monolithic definitions (as if an item belonged to only one genre); biologism (a kind of essentialism in which genres are seen as evolving…” (the best kind of art in my opinion is a mixture of many different feeling and influences.)

“If we are studying the way in which genre frames the reader's interpretation of a text then we would do well to focus on how readers identify genres rather than on theoretical distinctions.” This is the most profound idea in Chandler’s essay. A story designed to be thought of as horror, for example, but delivers a different genre altogether and uses what may be stereotypical elements of horror to evoke a certain reaction in the audience in preparation for an upcoming event within the story in order to portray a very specific idea or feeling is something I’ve never heard of before. It’s brilliant. I can’t wait to experiment with this in one of my own stories.
From identification comes genres. If we compare the art in question to another and find a common thread, that common thread serves as their genres. “Any text requires what is sometimes called 'cultural capital' on the part of its audience to make sense of it. Generic knowledge is one of the competencies required (Allen 1989: 52, following Charlotte Brunsdon)” For CSI for example you might need to know a thing or two about forensic science to understand what they are talking about sometimes.

While we traditionally think of genres as pertaining only to art, Bazerman demonstrates that they pertain to letters and other messages as well. Of course the genres themselves are entirely different though. There are no letters that fall under the genre of horror. If there are, I certainly hope I never receive one! Alternatively, a letter written in a threatening matter might just be labeled a warning, or even a death threat.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful