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The calligraphy on the banner, adapted from a Chinese ink rubbing, is by Mi Fu , one of the great Song dynasty masters. PN Review. The fundamental principles of how genre operates in our daily lives can be said to be encapsulated in those two simple statements gathering by kind and dividing into groups.
But as with all things that appear easy on the surface the implications and ramifications are far reaching. The book, published in the Routledge series of introductory guides entitled The New Critical Idiom, is not concerned with enforcing or describing any classification of genre upon literary or other discursive mediums such as film, music, or every-day talk, rather it explores genre as an abstraction: as a powerful force through which we shape, are shaped, and through which we sort out information; gain knowledge; and ultimately extrapolate meaning.
As such, genre, turns out to be a two way process within a cultural milieu that enables us to shift between the various frameworks or worlds that we co-inhabit. Knowing how to differentiate between a sermon and a joke is dependent on our ability to ascertain the nature of each, to read the context of each and process it accordingly. Recognizing its generic makeup, not as something fixed but able to shift at any instant, enables us to transpose and play with the whole gamut of possibilities including making up a sermon-as-joke or a joke-as-sermon.
In locating the nature of genre beyond the noun genrification, however, remains an awkward term which is wisely used very sparingly Frow is able to explore and extend the essential properties of a term that had become so restrained by the straightjacket of the Romantic triad lyric, epic, and drama inherited or misconstrued from Plato and Aristotle as to be rendered almost irrelevant.
Seeing genre as a frame that delimits a particular piece of information is useful but perhaps a more complex and dynamic metaphor could have been found in the idea of the window-frame that, with its added dimension of depth, brings the possibility of multiple perspectives. No matter if looking from within or without, shifting our standpoint brings different elements into view through the frame, thus although a window is static, what is framed depends on where we stand in relation to it.
What makes this slim volume fascinating reading, and not only essential reading for students of literary and cultural studies but for a broader readership, is the restraint that Professor Frow shows in setting out precisely some of the essential qualities of the concept of genre without dismissing conflicting aspects. The idea that every work is unique, espoused by Croce among others, need not be argued against in order to prove a point, by allowing a certain flexibility of multiple interpretations to co-exist in our understanding of how genre operates we can come to appreciate the various levels that a given text embodies:.
Hence: Floating Studio. Originally published in: PN Review. John Frow Genre Routledge
Summary: Frow’s “Approaching Genre” and “Literary Genre Theory”
John Frow born 13 November in Coonabarabran , Australia is an Australian academic who works in the areas of literary theory, narrative theory, intellectual property law, and cultural studies. He is currently Professor of English at the University of Sydney. His doctoral work and his first book, "Marxism and Literary History" , sought to rework Marxist theory for a non-determinist account of literary systems. Drawing on Althusser and Foucault , as well as on Russian Formalist theory , German reception aesthetics , a critical engagement with post-structuralist theory , and on a broad range of literary texts, it theorized the relation between discourse and power, the relational structure of literary texts and systems, and the dynamics of literary change. The central essay of "Time and Commodity Culture" theorized the distinction and the inter-dependence of gift and commodity economies as a way of analysing the encroachment of the commodity form on the commons in information ; other essays in the book explored the temporality of capital as the basis for historical understanding and the technologies of memory. It sought to develop an account of social class in which cultural capital plays a central and formative role, and developed the concept of the regime of value to theorize the structural regularities it found. And "Character and Person" explores the nature of human personhood by setting models of the person in relation to models of fictional character in a number of distinct literary and cinematic systems.
Genre Beyond the Noun
The readers, through their common understanding of prior events, form a discourse community that both creates and decodes meaning, thereby continuously redefining the different forms that constitute the genre. The form of the text, its type font, verb choice or play on words, for example, and the way it is framed or structured, together determine the rhetorical function and meaning of the text By suggesting a certain attitude, the objectivity of the work is diminished. One of the greatest challenges of the above presets then is attempting to limit the classification of any given text into one genre.