Genre is defined as a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content. Although this might be the dictionary definition, how can we extract an actual, physical definition of genre? It means a lot of things and covers many areas. Personally, I would have to say it’s a way to separate and organize writing, music, movies, books, etc. It’s a way to fit in all the different types of art that could potentially fall under a single category. I feel I must ask myself… how is genre meaningful as a term? A simple conclusion: form + situation = genre. That could work, right?
In our class discussion, we thought of various genres and jotted them down. When I first think of this on my own, I’m naturally drawn to these three stereotypical genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Before, this was my definition, plain and simple. Seemingly, everything can fit into those three categories. After discussing this with my peers, I had a better idea of what genre is. But how do I teach it to my students?
This week, the authors speak about critical thinking when applied to genre writing. How do we teach genre? Like I mentioned before – those three main categories is what I was always taught. I did not think critically when it came to genre. Or maybe I did but I just didn’t realize it. Can we teach a genre as if it were a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ thing? Part of me says yes… but the critical and analytical part of me says no.
In Bawarshi and Reiff’s article, the list they provide on page 197 helped me to consider different questions to ask, such as “Who can, and who cannot, use this genre? Does it empower some while silencing others?” and “What sort of communication does the genre encourage, what does it constrain against?” Teaching that the use of genre can spread further than my initial categories go, and we even have the power to change the world by understanding how to use genre – whether it be fiction, a news piece, the story of someone’s life and how others relate to it, or even a poem that knocks you on your feet when you understand it fully.
Another thought – when considering literacy – can it be used as a metaphor across various disciplines? We can also ask ourselves, what can our knowledge of literature/literacy contribute to other genre areas? As we move forward in life and evolve, new genres are being thought of as we speak. Digital media is one that has taken the world by storm. This did not exist almost 25 years ago. Blogging has become a genre in and of itself. We do it in class, we do it for pleasure, and we do it reach others around the world and relate. On that note, we definitely study genre to understand our culture better, and to relate to others.