Genre: A Literary Concept

So what is genre?

According to the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (2010), “genre” is defined as: a class or category of artistic endeavour having a particular form, content, technique, or the like. Originating from the French word meaning “type” or “kind,” genre is simply the organisation/classification of any media text into a category or type (Jones, 2006.)

Quite simply, genres have identifiable codes and conventions that are recognisable to a particular audience.  The conventions and codes of genres have been developed and re-developed over many years (Jones, 2006). If a group of texts have a similar form/structure or pattern of elements, then this might be due to a link in genre. Taking the “Westerns” genre for example, they have a common structural element which makes them recognisable as a specific genre. Westerns often end with a final gunfight and resolution to the problems established at the beginning of the text.

The following websites give a great analysis into the literary concept of “genre” and the conventions of genre. Click the links and a new window will open up to take you to the website.

An Introduction to Genre Theory
Written by Daniel Chandler of Aberystwyth University in Wales, this essay is a very detailed and comprehensive insight into the very definition of “genre” and an analysis into genre theory.  A meticulous and thorough read, it discusses the definition of genre (through a broad range of mediums such as literature and film) as well as the problems and the difficulty of the classification and hierarchical taxonomy of genres. It also brings about the relationship between the composers of text and the audiences of text as to how the definition and characteristics of genre are brought about. It also discusses genre as seeing individual texts in relation to others and genre being an “intertextual” concept.

What is Genre Fiction?
This website (although written by a blog poster) gives a very good (albeit brief) look into the concept and discourse of genre. It provides a good introduction into defining what constitutes “genre” as well as discussing the basic premises of what constitutes genre, particularly genre fiction and the basic elements within genre literature that allow texts to be classified into a certain genre.

What is Genre?
Complied by The Examiner, this article is an introductory analysis of the definition of “genre” as a literary concept. It also includes a brief history of genre as well as listing the definitions of current popular genres such as: Action/Adventure, Crime Writing, Literary Fiction, Romance, Science fiction/Fantasy/Horror, Non-adult Fiction and Western. The listing of the different genres helps breakdown the conventions and shows the elements of what makes that certian genre different to other genres.

Genre worksheet (downloadable .pdf file here)

Click here to move onto “Crime Fiction”

1. (2010)  Genre. The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved July 30, 2010 from
2. Jones, Sigrid (2006)  Genre. MedienABC. Retrieved July 30, 2010 from

Images (from descending order)
1. Literature.gif. Retrieved August 19, 2010 from
2. Literature.jpg. Retrieved August 19, 2010 from