Essay on Discussing Literary Genre

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To define genre is to embark on a conjectural journey within a theoretical minefield. Genre theory has drawn immense debate and contemplation throughout literary history, however, several conclusions have emerged. Genre types are unfixed categories whose characteristics differ considerably among the specific genres; furthermore, the role of literary history plays a significant role in discussions of genre, for genre types evolve and shift with each new literary text. An approach to the discussion of genre, family resemblances, illustrates similar conventions among texts within a genre, but there are significant problems in this approach. There are several ways to discuss genre, and although problems abound in any approach, the subjective …show more content…
However, the problem of selection arises, for which texts can claim to be representative of a genre? Moreover, who decides the selection of these texts? The consideration of specific characteristics in literature introduces problems regarding the classification of literary works. The choice of characteristics taken into account is essential to the discussion of genre types . The characteristics of specific genres shift throughout history to accommodate variations in the category that occur; the defining characteristics of a particular genre can alter so drastically that the preliminary era in a new genre may not resemble the modern literary works in that genre. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, considered to be the father of the modern short story, show the contrast between the classification of short fiction in the 19th century and today. Poe’s short story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue';, provides suspense and mystery; however, the story does not include the main character’s moment of consciousness, the key ingredient in classifying modern short stories. Although “The Murders in the Rue Morgue'; does not entail a moment of revelation, the story was regarded as short fiction in 1841. The contrast between early short fiction and the modern short story demonstrates the varying qualities of the genre between its preliminary stages and the present, and shows the substantial transformation which occurred within the genre.

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