Discipline within Genre and text definitions




Genre is something that has always been an enigma to me. I always understand what they were, so I never questioned their purpose. But I have never understood how written works were assigned a specific genre. The texts we read today came from pre-existing texts. Those texts in turn were designated a specific category, a genre.

When learning from my various English Composition, Literature, and Creative Writing teachers I never received any memorable lessons in genre recognition. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed reading about the disciplines between genre definitions and text meaning sources. For teachers, knowing the context of genre assignment and how texts get their meanings from other texts are important. This page from pressbooks.pub (11 Identifying Genre Expectations) shows a clear explanation for genre.

While reading “Texts Get Their meanings form other Texts” by Kevin Roozen, I really found what he said about what texts refer to intriguing. “Whatever meaning a writer or reader makes of a particular text is not a result of their engagements with that particular text alone. Rather than existing as autonomous documents, texts always refer to other texts and rely heavily on those texts to make meaning.” For me, this encapsulates the way I feel about the referencing of other texts and the assigning of genres. In order to assign a text to a specific genre, we have to recognize the specific confines of the category. Whichever one a text ends up designated to depends on the specific context and meaning of said text.

It is not easy for me to properly explain this. No one taught me the specific inner-workings of what genre is in a long time. As far as I can remember, teachers never took the time to discuss what makes up a text’s genre. For teachers, they need to start making genre defining clear. It isn’t easy for me to define what makes one, and I can tell what makes a text meaningful. Read a fiction book written by an author who has a history of loving sci-fi and anime. You will recognize when they’ve taken influence from those things they love. I’ve had many moments where I read a comic book or a novel and I recognized the similarity to other popular books of the past.

If I were to become a writing teacher, I would teach students two things. It’d be the importance of recognizing aspects of genres and how texts get their influence from other texts. Each genre is a specific category of text. That doesn’t mean a text of a specific genre has to be restricted to just that genre’s aspects. And when teaching this to students, I’d also want them to understand how to recognize and define genres within their own perspectives. Because genre can be easily defined in a way the differs from their perspectives. It’s just like how people speaking different languages will write differently depending on their dialect.


One response to “Discipline within Genre and text definitions”

  1. […] parents or their school teachers. When it comes to our identities, we write within that context. Just like with defining and assigning genres, our experiences as specific people shapes our text. As a black man, queer man, and autistic man, […]

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