Sunday, February 24, 2008

My contribution to the blog genre

I was looking forward to reading Genre & the Invention of the Writer: Reconsidering the Place of Invention in Composition by Anis Bawarshi, to learn more about genre theory. But I started to find myself disappointed as I read chapters one and two. Bawarshi discusses the old idea of genres as mere classifications (poem, detective story, romantic comedy, etc.) when he indicates "Certainly, genre appears to be nothing when it is defined as a way of innocently classifying or sorting kinds of texts" (7). But the leap to a new conception of genre didn't seem that daring to me. He presented numerous ideas/theories regarding genre, but seemed to belabor the point that genre can refer to nonliterary or extraliterary "texts." Yup, we could say that lectures and memos constitute their own genres.

Another point that seems to be made one or two times more than I needed was that the rules of a genre give the reader/audience a way to understand what they are reading. That is, a genre has specific features and by understanding a text as a part of one genre, it helps the reader understand what is happening. By way of example, Bawarshi provides some text and shows how the reader will interpret it one way if they know it to be a detective story and read it another way if they understand it to be a memoir. I've got a lot more to read in this book, but let me just say this: I expected a little more meat. Hopefully this isn't all there is to this genre theory thing.

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