Genre and innovation: What is a new genre? Carolyn R. Miller North Carolina State University 1 September 2008
where I’m going … • genres in the mass media • new genres in the mass media • models of genre change • thinking more broadly about genre • thinking more deeply about genre
List of Video Game Genres (partial)
“Get Fuzzy” 31 March 2008
“Microgenres” “YouTube redefin[ed] … broadcast success from having giant audiences for blockbuster content to having a giant inventory of videos that each satisfy arcane, niche interests … Users create microgenres and niches by posting answering images: the shrieking-kid-with-toy genre, the cats-being-mean genre, the speed-painting genre.” Virginia Heffernan, New York Times Magazine, 6 July 2008.
Genre has consequences • Margaret Jones, Love and Consequences, “a heart-wrenching memoir” (New York Times) • Misha Defonseca, A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, international bestseller in 18 languages memoir or fiction?
Yellowstone: Your Complete Guide to the Park (American Park Network, 2008).
Sample of New Genre Claims from Lexis/Nexis US and world news databases
Naming new genres • “Beirut mastermind Zach Condon traffics in a new genre that could be called poignant ballroom cabaret pop.” NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15279377 • Liz Losh, a rhetorician at the University of California at Irvine, notes that there’s now a genre of videos that combine cheating advice with a “do-it-yourself aesthetic.”http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/3160/students-show-how-to-cheat-via-youtube?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
Naming new genres • “With his signature calligraphic arms and hip gyrations, Goh … created an entirely new genre and claimed it for his own.” Joanne Lee, Straits Times (Singapore), 29 Sept. 1997. • The spa is billed as "a new genre of wellness spas, combining the elements of a traditional spa setting with the safety and superior clinical expertise of the medical profession.”Judy Gerstel, Toronto Star, 29 March 2007.
Naming new genres “Gone are the days when music was pushed kicking and biting into a few boxes -- ie: rock 'n' roll, pop, country, crunk etc. Now music mags are dripping with pencil-shaped-pant-wearing music geeks conjuring up new ways to describe music genres faster than my imaginary country guy could plough a paddock.”Vicki Anderson, Christchurch (NZ) Press, 7 December 2007.
Naming new genres The author discusses “how frustrating it was for him to come up with a good title, because this hot new genre does not have a better label than "nonfiction.” Anne Trubek, Chronicle Review, 4 July 2008.
Naming new genres “The written interpretation of this feeling, the stories, adventures and personalities involved with the place that generates this northness, is a genre, a class or category of artistic endeavour, but it has no name. It is largely unrecognized, not heard, the Cassandra of literature.”Joan Skelton, Toronto Globe & Mail, 8 January 2008.
Social bookmarks @ Diigo • Collection of genre mentions in mass media from 2007, 2008 • http://www.diigo.com • Groups = genre news; owner = Anna Turnage
Genre change: evolution • Diachronic change: relatedness, continuity • Synchronic variation: alternate forms • Fitness: differential survival
Genre change: thermodynamics • Susan Wells, Temple University • formalist approach • explains genre death but not birth or change?
Thinking more broadly … • multiple domains of discourse • multiple disciplines • multiple national traditions
How communities “own” genres • marketed genres: cultural need cultural need: what survives, what sells • administered genres: imposed exigence imposed exigence: what suits those in power • institutional genres: tradition tradition: what serves complex relationships • vernacular genres: cultural need cultural need: what satisfies, pleases
Thinking more deeply … about stability and recurrence • Social theory: typification, structuration, habitus • Rhetorical theory: decorum, piety
Decorum • the “fittingness” of form to action to exigence • extrinsic: accommodation of discourse to context • intrinsic: accommodation of substance, form, and style to each other
New project … • Online Academic Resource (OAR) • Multidisciplinary • International • Dynamic • Types of content: edited, managed, peer-reviewed, user-generated
Functionality • searching • sorting • browsing • tagging • commenting • data visualization • user logins & profiles • tracking hits and users
Coverage • Bibliography: categories, tags, comments • Definitions • Models of change • Introductions to disciplinary approaches • Glossary / index • News, both academic and vernacular
Benefits • enable “scholar-networking” • provide comprehensive overview • promote interaction and innovation • connect scholarly and vernacular conversations • catalyze pedagogical improvement
Thanks to … • Anna Turnage, doctoral student in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, NC State University, who collected the database information. • Susan Miller-Cochran, Department of English, NC State University, who suggested Diigo.com.