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English Literature

Genre Guides: an Introduction

"Genre" is the French word for "type," "genus," "style," "way," or "kind." In literary studies genre refers to traditional classifications such as "drama," "novel," and "lyric," or (within the larger genre of drama) "tragedy" and "comedy."

For the purposes of literary study it is important to know not only basic concepts of genre but also the traditions and conventions of the specific genres relevant to the work in question. But genre criticism is not just a matter of fitting works into their "proper" genres, for a work may cross or combine genres or play against them, and in fact the exercise of reading a work may enable you to see aspects of the text you may not otherwise notice.

Genre Guides

On Genre in General

Dubrow, Heather. Genre
PN45.5.D8 1982
Lucid overview of genre theory with references to further studies.
Rosmarin, Adena. The Power of Genre
PN45.5.R67 1985
This "pragmatic" theory of genre questions whether genre classifications can be correct in any absolute sense and stresses the explanatory power of mis-classifications. Examples emphasize dramatic monologue.

Series on Specific Genres

"The Critical Idiom" series, published by Methuen between 1969 and 1985, includes useful introductory guides to specific literary genres, modes, and forms. Titles in the series include (but are not limited to) "The Absurd," "Allegory," "Ballad," "Biography," "Comedy," "Comedy of Manners," "Drama," "Dramatic Monologue," "Epic," "Farce," "Genre," "Lyric," "Melodrama," "Ode," "Pastoral," "Picaresque," "Realism," "Romance," "Satire," "Short Story," "Sonnet," "Tragedy," "Tragicomedy." To find specific titles in this series through Omni, type "critical idiom" and search by "series/uniform title."
The similar "New Accents" series, also published by Methuen between 1977 and 1987, includes further titles such as "Fantasy," "Literature and Propaganda," "Metafiction," "Narrative Fiction," "Science Fiction." To find specific titles in this series through Omni, type "new accents" and search by "series/uniform title.