The Complexity of Genre

Dean’s “Genre Theory” was very interesting and it revealed information I had not ever thought of before about genres. I found information within this article that I had already heard/learned  about, while I also came across information that I hadn’t heard of before which left me wondering. Dean expresses new compelling ideas about genre that give the reader a better insight on what more genres are.

At the beginning of this article, Dean explains the complexity of defining the word ‘genre.’ Before reading this article I never thought the definition of genre being anything other than something we do to categorize or sort something. For example, we have music in genres like country, rap, pop, etc.  So it kind of made me start to wonder what more a genre could be. Then Dean explains that genres “are defined more by situation than form……are more an explanation of social interaction than a  classification system.” However, before reading this I never thought of them genres being more than a “classification system” but I think I understand what Dean means.

Dean goes on to explain that genres are “responses of social interactions/ situations” but I became a little confused as to what she meant by this. I’m wondering if what she meant was that genres take form or are defined by social interactions/situations? I’m not sure what she even means by social interactions/situations. Then I got to “Genres Are Not Fixed” and it started to make more sense as to what she was referring to. She explains that genres are shaped by various influences at different times. When Dean stated genres had various influences it reminded me of movies and how movies can be categorized into different genres because they fit multiple characteristics. Later I found myself learning about the social aspect of genres and how they work within social settings. What she meant was that social situations shape our genres, she gave the example of how you wouldn’t submit a poem when a resume is expected. Overall, I think I better comprehend what she meant by saying that genres were social.

The historical aspect of genres was a little patchy for me. I didn’t understand how genres fit with historical aspects. I understood what she meant when she said that when genres change they depend on previous genres to develop but I didn’t understand what would cause them to change. Dean explains that they change but I had always thought that if they changed then you would simply add another genre, which confuses me.

Ultimately, I found myself delving into this article because it seemed very interesting to know that genres are more than what I thought I knew. Genres aren’t just used in literacy but through different aspects. We don’t have to only use them to categorize things like books, movies, or music, however we use genres in everyday life without even realizing it.


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