- Plural of genre
- Plural of genre
A genre (, also /ˈdʒɑːnrə/; from French "kind" or "sort", from Latin: genus (stem gener-)) is a loose set of criteria for a category of composition; the term is often used to categorize literature and speech, but is also used for any other form of art or utterance.
Genres are vague categories with no fixed boundaries. Genres are formed by sets of conventions, and many works cross into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions. The scope of the word "genre" is sometimes confined to art and culture, particularly literature, but it has a long history in rhetoric as well. In genre studies the concept of genre is not compared to originality. Rather, all works are recognized as either reflecting on or participating in the conventions of genre.
Subgenre and hybrid forms
Genres are often divided into subgenres. Literature, for example, is divided into three basic kinds of literature, which are the classic genres of Ancient Greece: poetry, drama, and prose. Poetry may then be subdivided into epic, lyric, and dramatic. Subdivisions of drama includes foremost comedy and tragedy, while eg. comedy itself has subgenres, including farce, comedy of manners, burlesque, satire, and so on. However, any of these terms would be called "genre", and its possible more general terms implied.
Genre also has a rich tradition in speech-making and criticism. Classical rhetoricians in Greece suggested that there were three primary genres of speech: forensic, deliberative, and epideictic. Forensic speeches are informative, aiming to establish something that happened. Deliberative speeches try to persuade an audience. Epideictic speeches praise or blame a person, value, or event. As with literary genres, there are subgenres that exist under each of these over-arching genres: apologia, funeral orations, and the after-dinner speech might be considered three sub-genres of epideictic rhetoric.
Hybrid forms of different terms have been used, like a prose poem or a tragicomedy. Science fiction has many recognized subgenres; a science fiction story may be rooted in real scientific expectations as they are understood at the time of writing (see Hard science fiction). A more general term, coined by Robert A. Heinlein, is "speculative fiction," an umbrella term covering all such genres that depict alternate realities. Even fiction that depicts innovations ruled out by current scientific theory, such as stories about or based on faster-than-light travel, are still science fiction, because science is a main subject in the piece of art.
Age categoriesMost genres may also be segmented by the age demographic:
Genre and audiencesAlthough genres are not precisely definable, genre considerations are one of the most important factors in determining what a person will see or read. Many genres have built-in audiences and corresponding publications that support them, such as magazines and websites. Books and movies that are difficult to categorize into a genre are likely to be less successful commercially.
The term may be used in categorising web pages, like "newspage" and "fanpage", with both very different layout, audience, and intention. Some search engines like Vivísimo try to group found web pages into automated categories in an attempt to show various genres the search hits might fit.
"Hierarchy of genres" in paintingIn the field of painting, there exists a "hierarchy of genres" associated with the Académie française which once held a central role in academic art. These genres in hierarchical order are:
These categories played an important role between the 17th century and the modern era, when painters and critics began to rebel against the many rules of the Académie française, including the Académie's preference for history painting.
Genre in linguisticsIn philosophy of language, figuring very prominently in the works of philosopher and literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin's basic observations were of "speech genres" (the idea of heteroglossia), modes of speaking or writing that people learn to mimic, weave together, and manipulate (such as "formal letter" and "grocery list", or "university lecture" and "personal anecdote"). In this sense genres are socially specified: recognized and defined (often informally) by a particular culture or community. The work of Georg Lukács also touches on the nature of literary genres, appearing separately but around the same time (1920s–1930s) as Bakhtin. Norman Fairclough has a similar concept of genre that emphasises the social context of the text: Genres are "different ways of (inter)acting discoursally" (Fairclough, 2003: 26)
However, this is just one way of conceiving genre. Charaudeau & Maingueneau determine four different analytic conceptualisations of genre. A text's genre may be determined by its: 1. Linguistic function. 2. Formal traits. 3. Textual organisation. 4. Relation of communicative situation to formal and organisational traits of the text (Charaudeau & Maingueneau 2002: 278-80).
List of Genres
- Historical: A
story about a real person or event. Often, they are written in a
book format, which may or may not focus on solely that person
- Biography: The
details of the life story of
a real person, told by someone else.
- Autobiography: Essentially the same as a biography, with the exception that the story is written by the person who is the subject of the story.
- Memoir: Similar to autobiography, with the exception that it is told more "from memory", i.e. it is how the person personally remembers and feels about their life or a stage in their life, more than the exact, recorded details of that period. Though memoirs are often more subjective than autobiography works, memoirs are generally still considered to be nonfiction works. There are also some fiction works that purport to be the "memoirs" of fictional characters as well, done in a similar style, however, these are in a separate genre from their nonfiction counterparts.
Fiction: A story that takes place in the real world, with real
world people, but with several fictionalized or dramatized
elements. This may or may not crossover with other genres;
for example, fantasy
fiction or science
fiction may play a part, as is the case for instance with the
Washington's Socks, which includes time travel
- Alternate history: A more extreme variant of historical fiction which posits a what if scenario in which some historical event occurs differently (or not at all), thus altering the course of history; for instance, "What if the South won the American Civil War?" is an Alternate History concept that has had treatment in fiction. Alternate History is sometimes (though not universally) referred to as a subgenre of science fiction or speculative fiction, and like historical fiction, may include more fantastical elements (for instance, the Temeraire series uses the fantasy element of dragons to create an Alternate History plot set during the Napoleonic Era).
- Biography: The details of the life story of a real person, told by someone else.
- Adventure: A story about a protagonist who journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something. It can have many other genre elements included within it, because it is a very open genre.
- Action: A
story, similar to Adventure, but the protagonist usually takes a
risky turn, which leads to desperate situations (including explosions, fight
scenes, daring escapes, etc.). Action and Adventure are usually
categorized together (sometimes even as "action-adventure") because
they have much in common, and many stories fall under both genres
simultaneously (for instance, the James Bond
series can be classified as both).
- Superhero: A modern story about a person or creature who possesses supernatural or superhuman abilities. Often, they use their abilities to protect or avenge others; hence the "hero" portion of the term. It should be noted that while the genre is reasonably common and broadly-definable (it can include science fiction, fantasy or both for instance), the term "superhero" is in fact technically a trademark (owned jointly) of DC Comics and Marvel Comics, who between them coined the term; thus, many games and stories that are not owned in part by either company often refer in-story and often in-title to their characters as "heroes" or other stand-in terms meant to imply their superhuman nature (examples of the former usage include the television series Heroes and the video game City of Heroes; an example of the latter is The Incredibles, which refers to its superheroic characters as "supers"). The genre should not be confused with heroic mythology or folkloric tales, as older, traditional folk characters such as Hercules or Robin Hood generally are not considered to fall under the "superhero" genre.
- Military: A story about a war or battle that can either be historical or fictional. It usually follows the events a certain warrior goes through during the battle's events.
- Spy fiction: A story about a secret agent or military personnel member who is sent on a secret espionage mission. Usually, they are equipped with special gadgets that prove useful during the mission, and they have special training in things such as unarmed combat or computer hacking. They may or may not work for a specific government.
- Swashbuckler: A story about a protagonist who gets into risky situations. In the story, the protagonist is usually in fights against villains, using weapons. The single handed sword is most commonly used by the protagonists in this genre.
arts film: A story characterized by extensive fighting scenes
employing various types of martial arts.
- Kung Fu: An action story set in China or associated with Chinese martial arts.
Fiction: A story about technology or the future. It generally
includes or is centered on the presumed effects or ramifications of
computers or machines, travel through
alien lifeforms, genetic
engineering, or other such things. The science or technology
used may or may not be very thoroughly elaborated on; stories whose
scientific elements are reasonably detailed, well-researched and
considered to be relatively plausible given current knowledge and
technology are often referred to as hard
science fiction. Owing to the wide breadth of the genre, it
very commonly has elements from other genres, such as action, comedy,
history, military or spy fiction, and fantasy mixed in, with such
combinations often forming new major subgenres in their own right
- Military Science Fiction: A story about a war or battle against aliens, monsters or other nations. It usually has technology far superior to today's, but not necessarily implausible. Military Science Fiction essentially is the addition of science fiction elements into a military fiction story.
- Space Opera: A story characterized by the extent of space travel and distinguished by the amount of time that protagonists spend in an active, spacefaring lifestyle. Star Trek, Star Blazers and Star Wars have often been categorized as such.
- Punk: An
umbrella term, and suffix, for several Science Fiction subgenres,
normally categorized by distinct technologies and sciences. The
themes tend to be cynical or dystopian, and a person, or
group of people, fighting the corruption
of the government.
- Cyberpunk: A
futuristic storyline dealing with people who have been physically
or mentally enhanced with cybernetic components, often
featuring cyborgs or
singularity as a major theme, and generally somewhat cynical or dystopian (hence the "punk"
portion of the name). This is often confused or placed with
which is actually a separate and less specialized genre.
- Postcyberpunk describes a subgenre of science fiction which some critics suggest has evolved from cyberpunk. Like its predecessor, postcyberpunk focuses on technological developments in near-future societies, typically examining the social effects of a ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, genetic engineering, modification of the human body, and the continued impact of perpetual technological change. Unlike "pure" cyberpunk, however, the works in this category feature characters who act to improve social conditions or at least protect the status quo from further decay.
- Dieselpunk: Initially proposed as a genre by the creators of the role-playing game Children of the Sun, dieselpunk refers to fiction inspired by mid-century pulp stories and set in a world similar to steampunk though specifically characterized by the rise of petroleum power and technocratic perception, incorporating neo-noir elements and sharing themes more clearly with cyberpunk than steampunk. Though the notability of dieselpunk as a genre is not entirely uncontested, installments ranging from the retro-futuristic film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to the 2001 Activision video game Return to Castle Wolfenstein have been suggested as quintessential dieselpunk works of fiction.
- Steampunk: A
story that takes place around the time steam
technology was first coming into use. The industrial
revolution is a common time frame which steam punk
stories take place in, and the steam technology is often actually
more advanced than the real technology of time (for instance,
Detective features steam-powered robots).
- Clockpunk: It has been occasionally used to refer to a subgenre of speculative fiction which is similar to steampunk, but deviates in its technology. As with steampunk, it portrays advanced technology based on pre-modern designs, but rather than the steam power of the Industrial Age, the technology used is based on springs, clockwork and similar. Clockpunk is based very intensively on the works of Leonardo da Vinci and as such, it is typically set during the Renaissance. It is regarded as being a type of Steampunk.
- Biopunk: A story that is about genetics and biological research (often falling under the horror category). It's about some harmful effects characters have created when they change an animal's code to (unintentionally) create violent monster.
- Cyberpunk: A futuristic storyline dealing with people who have been physically or mentally enhanced with cybernetic components, often featuring cyborgs or the singularity as a major theme, and generally somewhat cynical or dystopian (hence the "punk" portion of the name). This is often confused or placed with Techno-Thriller, which is actually a separate and less specialized genre.
- Fantasy: A story
about magic and supernatural forces, rather
than technology, though it often is made to include elements of
other genres, such as science
fiction elements, for instance computers or DNA, if it happens to
take place in a modern or future era. Depending on the extent of
these other elements, the story may or may not be considered to be
a "hybrid genre" series; for instance, even though the Harry Potter
includes the requirement of a particular gene to be a wizard, it is referred
to only as a fantasy series.
- Science Fantasy: A story with mystical elements that are scientifically explainable, or which combines science fiction elements with fantasy elements. It should be noted that science fiction was once actually referred to under this name, but that it is no longer used to denote that genre, and has somewhat fallen out of favor as a genre descriptor.
- High Fantasy: A story that takes place in a completely different world or universe, having different races, traditions and even religions. Often, there aren't any real world events that tie into the story. The best known example of high fantasy is probably The Lord of the Rings.
- Wuxia: A distinct quasi-fantasy sub-genre of the martial arts genre.
- Romance: A story about character's relationships, or engagements. It's a story about character development, rather than adventures.
Fiction: A story about a crime that is being committed or was
committed. It can also be an account of a criminal's life. It often
falls into the Action or Adventure genres.
- Mystery: A story
about a detective or person who has to solve a crime that was
committed. They must figure out who committed the crime and why.
Sometimes, the detective must figure out 'how' the criminal
committed the crime if it seems impossible.
- Murder Mystery: A mystery story which focuses on one type of criminal case: homicide. Usually, there are one or more murder victims, and the detective must figure out who killed them, the same way he or she solves other crimes. They may or may not find themselves or loved ones in danger because of this investigation; the genre often includes elements of a the suspense story genre, or of the action and adventure genres.
- Mystery: A story about a detective or person who has to solve a crime that was committed. They must figure out who committed the crime and why. Sometimes, the detective must figure out 'how' the criminal committed the crime if it seems impossible.
A story that tells about a series of funny or comical events,
intended to make the audience laugh. It a is very open genre, and
thus crosses over with many other genres on a frequent basis.
- Comedy of manners: A film satirizes the manners and affectations of a social class, often represented by stock characters. The plot of the comedy is often concerned with an illicit love affair or some other scandal, but is generally less important than its witty dialogue. This form of comedy has a long ancestry, dating back at least as far as Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing.
- Parody: A story that mocks or satirizes other genres, people, fictional characters or works. Such works employ sarcasm, stereotyping, mockery of scenes, symbols or lines from other works, and the obviousness of meaning in a character's actions. Such stories may be "affectionate parodies" which merely mean to entertain those familiar with the source of the parody... or they may well be intended to undercut the respectability of the original inspiration for the parody by pointing out its flaws (the latter being closer to satire).
- Black comedy: A parody or satirical story that is based around normally taboo subjects, including death, murder, suicide, illicit drugs and war. So-called "Dead Baby Comedy" sometimes falls under this genre.
- Romantic comedy: A subgenre which combines the romance genre with comedy, focusing on two or more individuals as they discover and attempt to deal with their romantic attractions to each other. The stereotypical plot line follows the "boy-gets-girl", "boy-loses-girl", "boy gets girl back again" sequence. Naturally there are innumerable variants to this plot (as well as new twists, such as reversing the gender roles in the story), and much of the generally light-hearted comedy lies in the social interactions and sexual tension between the characters, who very often either refuse to admit they are attracted to one another, or must deal with others' meddling in their affairs.
- Comedic Science Fiction: A comedy that uses science fiction elements or settings, often as a light-hearted (or occasionally vicious) parody of the latter genre.
A story that re-tells events rather than create them. Usually, it
is about true historic events.
- Mockumentary: A story that isn't about true historical events; rather, it uses the documentary "style" to cover fictional, and generally humorous, events or characters. Very common in film and television, both as a full film or series, or as a brief sequence or episode within a larger work. Examples include Best In Show and The Office.
- Horror: A
story that is told to deliberately scare or frighten the audience,
through suspense, violence or shock.
- Monster: A story about a monster, creature or mutant that terrorizes people. Usually, it fits into the horror genre, for instance, Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.
- Giant Monster: A story about a giant monster, similar to the monster genre. However, giant monster stories are generally about a monster big enough to destroy buildings. Some such stories are about two giant monsters fighting each other, a genre known as kaiju in Japan, which is famous for such works after the success of such films and franchises as Godzilla.
- Slasher: A story (generally in film) that usually has an antagonist, who is a serial killer or simply insane. The "slasher" stereotypically kills his victims in the movie by slowly creeping up to them, and then quickly killing them with a sharp object, such as a Chef's knife. The genre lead to the creation of the Final girl theory.
- Survival Horror: A horror story about a protagonist who is put in a risky and life threatening situation that he or she must endure, often as a result of things such as zombies or other monsters, and the rest of the plot is how the hero or heroes overcome this.
A story that is usually a mix of fear and excitement. It has traits
from the suspense genre
and often from the action, adventure or mystery genres, but the level of
terror makes it borderline horror
fiction at times as well. It generally has a dark or serious
theme, which also makes it similar to drama.
- Disaster-Thriller: A thriller story about mass peril, where the protagonist's job is to both survive, and to save many other people from a grim fate, often a natural disaster such as a storm or volcanic eruption, but which may also be a terrorist attack or epidemic of some sort.
- Psychological-Thriller: A thriller that is less about the action, and more about the mental condition of the hero. The hero usually has what seem to be mental problems that get in the way of his objective - which may or may not be real mental instability. Some Psychological Thrillers are also about complicated stories that try to deliberately confuse the audience, often by showing them only the same confusing or seemingly nonsensical information that the hero gains.
- Crime-Thriller: A thriller story that revolves around the life of detectives, mobs, or other groups associated with criminal events in the story.
- Techno-Thriller: A thriller story whose theme is usually technology, or the danger behind the technology people use, including the threat of cyber terrorism.
- Jidaigeki: A story of a "period drama," and the period is usually the Edo period of Japanese history, from 1603 to 1868.
- Western: A story that usually takes place in the Wild West.
Genres unique to movies:
- Animation: A
genre descriptor that refers to the medium; animation is the use of
computer renderings or drawings (or occasionally photos of
representational objects, known as stop-motion
animation or claymation) shown in a
sequence in order to depict an action or event rather than using
the filming of live actors.
- Traditional Animation: Also known as "cel animation", this is one of the oldest animation subgenres. Basically, it is a way of animating a cartoon by drawing and painting pictures by hand. Each drawing or painting is a different frame of animation, and when they are flipped or put in sequence at the right speed, they give the illusion of movement.
- Stop Motion: A genre similar to Traditional Animation, however, instead of using hand drawn pictures, stop motion films are made with small figurines or other objects that have their picture taken many times in order to provide the animation frames.
- Computer Generated Images (CGI): A genre of animation that that includes animating a cartoon on a computer modeling program. Models of characters or props are created on the computer, and then programmed to do something specific. Then, when the animation is completely programed, the computer can play a completely computer generated movie. CGI is often used for the visual effects in Live Action films as well.
- Puppetry: Although it is technically Live Action, puppetry is a different way of "animating" a movie and puppets are often used in lieu of live actors. Usually, there are small figurines or figures (similar to stop motion), but these are controlled and filmed in real time. Like CGI, puppetry can be found in Live Action films as a method of achieving a special effect.
- Live Action: The opposite of animation, live action uses the filming or videotaping of live actors instead of representational animation. Essentially, it is filming using real people, props and sets. Many a live action production does feature animation to achieve certain special effects work, but the film still falls under live action so long as at least some characters are played by real people whose physical performance is captured on film or video.
Genres unique to television:
- Serial: A television show which is one continuous story. Each episode picks up from where the last one left off. The story may shift with a new season.
- Game Show: A television show depicting a real contest, typically a trivia competition or physical challenge, with rewards in prizes or money. The players may include celebrities.
- Reality Show: A television show, purportedly unscripted, featuring non-actors filmed interacting with each other or dealing with invented or contrived challenges, such as surviving on a "deserted" island by finding their own food and shelter, or competing against others for the affections of a certain person. Filmed in a similar fashion as the documentary film genre, but with more emphasis on the showing of interpersonal conflict, emotional reactions, or unusual occurrences.
- Sitcom: Short for Situational Comedy, a generally light-hearted genre which features characters having to deal with odd or uncomfortable situations or misunderstandings.
Genres unique to video games:
- Shooter: A
game where the main purpose is to fight using, and/or shoot guns.
- First Person Shooter: A variant of the shooting game. In the game, the camera is actually in place of the character's eyes, so that you are playing the game from his or her point of view.
- Third Person Shooter: A shooting game where the camera angle is actually hovering over the playable character as you play.
- Strategy: A game
where the purpose is to strategize. You have an opponent with the
same abilities as you, more or less, and to beat him, you must use
your abilities in a much more tactical way.
Time Strategy (RTS): A strategy game where everybody plays at
the same time, and races to think of a better strategy than the
other players. Most of these video games are about military.
- Massive Multiplayer Online Real Time Strategy (MMORTS): A Real Time Strategy game that is played online. Many players can sign on a play at the same time, creating empires and battling each other.
- Turn Based Strategy: A strategy game where everybody takes turns. Once everybody has placed their units and military characters in the right spot they can't move again until the next turn begins.
- Real Time Strategy (RTS): A strategy game where everybody plays at the same time, and races to think of a better strategy than the other players. Most of these video games are about military.
- Musical: A game where music is usually played. To win, the players must match the rhythm of the music by pushing the right button combination until their opponents are unable to keep up with them. Not to be confused with the stage musical or musical film, which are stories that feature characters singing about the events in the plot.
- Simulation: A game where you must manage and develop fictitious business. For example, in a game you might be asked the manage and build a zoo, and the game simulates this for you in as accurate a way as possible.
- Puzzle: A game were you must solve puzzles in order to progress through the levels.
- Platform: Usually, it is a game where the playable character must go around and collect key items that prove useful in game play. To collect these items, the character usually has to help non playable characters with basic tasks.
- Fighting: A game where two or more playable characters fight. Each character usually has their own unique moves, and the goal of the game, usually, is to be the last man standing.
- Side Scroller: A really basic type of game. Each playable character can only move in four directions. Up, down, left and right. They can't move forwards and backwards.
Playing Game : A game that isn't (necessarily) about combat. It
is a game where the player plays a character, and goes around
pretending to be a real person in a fictitious world. This is also
similar to non-video game forms of gaming that involve roleplaying,
by post gaming and tabletop
- Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG): A game similar to a regular Role Playing Game, but it is a multiplayer game played via the internet. During this game, thousands of players can play the same game at the same time. Players sign on and play and have competitions with other players while the game is commencing.
Genres unique to music:
- Classical: Music that was composed in the 18th and 19th centuries by popular artist, like Beethoven. Some (though not all) categorize modern original music that is done in the styles of that time "classical" as well.
- Folk: Musical adaptations of old stories that were passed from generation to generation. Considered somewhat more niche now.
- Rock: Music
that originated from Folk and Blues. It used newer electrical
instruments instead of relying solely on the classical woodwinds
and stringed instruments. It first became popular in the mid 20th
century because of famous bands like The Beatles.
- Heavy Metal: Similar to Rock, and generally considered a subgenre of it. It usually uses the same electrical instruments, but the music is more intense and less "pop" in style (see below).
- Pop: "Pop music" once referred to any popular music during the time period, though the term has slowly gained use as a more specific (yet still somewhat vague) genre descriptor for music with a catchy, relatively consistent melody, among other aspects. It is commonly placed as having started in the mid 20th century, alongside Rock music. Much dance music falls under this genre, and much modern Rock music is considered to include elements of it as well, since bands such as the Beatles were a significant stylistic influence on what is now considered Pop.
& Blues (R&B) - an evolving range of genres that first
began to develop in the early 20th century.
- Blues: A somewhat somber, quieter style of music whose name refers to the unhappiness of the performer, and which gained popularity in the early 20th century alongside Jazz, and influenced the early development of Rock music. A major genre within R&B, and one of its earliest genres as well.
- Rap music and Hip Hop - more rhythmically-based, mostly urban-derived genres, with a wide array of subgenres between them.
- Jazz - an experimental, often brass-heavy and frequently somewhat less-structured genre of music that first evolved in the early 20th century, most prominently followed during the Roaring Twenties but still in existence today.
- House/Techno: Like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal
ReferencesCharaudeau, P.; Maingueneau, D. & Adam, J. Dictionnaire d'analyse du discours Seuil, 2002 Fairclough, Norman. Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research Routledge, 2003
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