The Genre Angle: Pulp Fictions, Graphic Novels, Manga, Comics

genreangleThe term Genre Fiction in our context is the type of literary work which is often called Popular Fiction, and, if one were to make a crass distinction between high and low culture, Genre Fiction would typically be contrasted with so-called Literary Fiction. According to creative writing professor Robert McKee, Genre Fiction follows certain conventions such as the “specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres.” These conventions are not a fixed set of features but rather they are always being negotiated and reassessed; it is also important to note that fictional works often fit into multiple genres by borrowing and recombining these conventions.Typical examples of Genre Fiction would be Action-adventure, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery or Detective, Romance, Science fiction and Western.

Because of the specific research interests of the [GotPop] group, our work here is very much focused on so-called speculative fiction, which is a catch-all term to describe a number of genres that all have as a central feature some departure from the world as we perceive it. This particular sub-set of genre fiction typically includes science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, horror, Utopian and Dystopian fiction. Our research interests here lie not only in the narratives themselves but also in the relation between Speculative Fiction and Constructed Languages (e.g. invented languages, Alien Languages and Future Englishes).

Recommended reading:

  • Adams, Michael. From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Attebery, Brian. Strategies of Fantasy. Bloomington: Indian UP, 1992.
  • Attebery, Brian. The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin. Indiana University Press, 1980.
  • Barnes, Myra Jean. Linguistics and Languages in Science Fiction-fantasy. New York: Arno Press, 1974.
  • Delany, Samuel R. The Jewel-hinged Jaw Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2009.
  • Freedman, Carl Howard. Critical Theory and Science Fiction. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 2000.
  • James, Edward, and Farah Mendlesohn. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Mandala, Susan. Language in Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Question of Style. London?; New York: Continuum, 2010.
  • McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics?: the Invisible Art. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.
  • Mendlesohn, Farah. Rhetorics of Fantasy. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2008.
  • Meyers, Walter Earl. Aliens and Linguists?: Language Study and Science Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980.
  • Okrent, Arika. In the Land of Invented Languages?: a Celebration of Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius. New York: Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperbacks, 2010.
  • Rosenfelder, Mark. The Language Construction Kit. Chicago: Yonagu Books, 2010.
  • Schlobin, Roger C. The Aesthetics of Fantasy Literature and Art. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982.
  • The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. London; New York: Routledge, 2009.

 Some fun/useful links:


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