Genre theory


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Rick Altman's Genre Theory Powerpoint

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Genre theory

  1. 1. Media Theory Genre
  2. 2. Genre <ul><li>What is Genre? </li></ul><ul><li>Genre means kind or type </li></ul><ul><li>List as many genres as you can </li></ul><ul><li>Identify characteristics of each genre </li></ul>
  3. 3. Genre <ul><li>Genres have characteristic features that are known to and recognised by audiences </li></ul><ul><li>This ‘formula’ is reproduced again and again </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. in a Western we see similar characters, situations and settings </li></ul>
  4. 4. Genre <ul><li>Audiences and Genres </li></ul><ul><li>Why do audiences find genres satisfying? </li></ul><ul><li>Audiences develop an understanding that certain expectations may be fulfilled and they may find pleasure in predicting what will happen next </li></ul>
  5. 5. Genre <ul><li>Institutions and Genre </li></ul><ul><li>Producers of generic narratives depend on a certain amount of immediate communication with the audience </li></ul><ul><li>They want the narrative to be easily comprehensible </li></ul><ul><li>Genres that use key components that are easily recognisable are particularly important </li></ul>
  6. 6. Genre <ul><li>Audiences know what to expect from a genre but at the same time want some variations to prevent dissatisfaction and even boredom </li></ul><ul><li>Thus any text in a genre is a combination of the familiar and the unexpected </li></ul>
  7. 7. Genre <ul><li>Key Components of Genre </li></ul><ul><li>STOCK CHARACTERS </li></ul><ul><li>STOCK PLOTS, SITUATIONS, ISSUES AND THEMES </li></ul><ul><li>STOCK LOCATIONS AND BACKDROPS </li></ul><ul><li>STOCK PROPS AND SIGNIFIERS </li></ul><ul><li>MUSIC AND SOUNDS </li></ul><ul><li>GENERIC CONVENTIONS </li></ul>
  8. 8. Genre <ul><li>Problems of genre </li></ul><ul><li>Actually defining a genre is inherently problematic </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. What is the difference between an Action/Adventure film and a Thriller? </li></ul><ul><li>Or between a thriller and a Horror film? </li></ul><ul><li>Is Seven a Thriller, a Horror film, or a Film Noir? </li></ul><ul><li>Is Film Noir a genre? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Genre <ul><li>We can hope to engage with these problems by considering a more advanced approach to Genre Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Rick Altman in his book Film/Genre has proposed what he calls the: </li></ul><ul><li>SEMANTIC/SYNTACTIC APPROACH </li></ul>
  10. 10. Genre <ul><li>Using this approach we need to consider genre in two ways: </li></ul><ul><li>1. SEMANTIC </li></ul><ul><li>This is concerned with the conventions of the genre that communicate to the audience such as characters, locations, props, music, shooting style and other signifiers </li></ul>
  11. 11. Genre <ul><li>E.g. In a Western we would expect to see: </li></ul><ul><li>Horses </li></ul><ul><li>Guns </li></ul><ul><li>Hats </li></ul><ul><li>Wilderness </li></ul><ul><li>Native Americans </li></ul><ul><li>Etc </li></ul>
  12. 12. Genre <ul><li>2. SYNTACTIC </li></ul><ul><li>This is concerned with the relations between these elements and the structure of narratives in genres </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. In a romantic comedy we expect the potential lovers to begin by not liking each other </li></ul><ul><li>There are then a series of meetings/problems (enigmas) which culminate in their successful relationship </li></ul>
  13. 13. Genre <ul><li>By employing this SEMANTIC/SYNTACTIC approach it enables us to produce a more sophisticated reading of any genre </li></ul><ul><li>However, this approach can be developed further by also considering audiences and institutions </li></ul>
  14. 14. Genre <ul><li>Altman expanded his approach to include these elements by proposing a SEMANTIC/SYNTACTIC/PRAGMATIC approach </li></ul><ul><li>This latter aspect includes institutions and audiences </li></ul>
  15. 15. Genre <ul><li>1. INSTITUTIONS </li></ul><ul><li>Genre as a mode of production </li></ul><ul><li>Institutions (Film Studios) will produce films in genres </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. in a certain year they will produce: </li></ul><ul><li>A number of films in the following genres: </li></ul><ul><li>Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi, Horror, Rom-Com, Teenage Comedy etc </li></ul>
  16. 16. Genre <ul><li>This mix of genres is to ensure that the maximum possible audience is catered for </li></ul><ul><li>Certain genres come into and out of favour due to the perceived audience response </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. The Western and the musical have all but disappeared </li></ul><ul><li>The horror film has come back into fashion </li></ul>
  17. 17. Genre <ul><li>2. AUDIENCES </li></ul><ul><li>Audiences may read genre texts in a variety of ways </li></ul><ul><li>They may, in effect, create and re-create genres </li></ul><ul><li>Thus through audience responses new genres are created </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. the new martial art films from Japan, Hong Kong etc which have become very popular in the USA and UK </li></ul>
  18. 18. Genre <ul><li>Also it is necessary to consider how Web 2.0 has impacted on audiences – user generated content </li></ul><ul><li>Audiences can now be active consumers of texts and can manipulate genres and generic conventions for their own pleasures </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. The Shining reworked </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  19. 19. Genre <ul><li>Consider also Michael Wesch’s video essays describing the impact of Web 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  20. 20. Genre <ul><li>Altman’s SEMANTIC/SYNTACTIC/PRAGMATIC approach can also be applied to texts such as Thrillers and Pop Promo Videos </li></ul><ul><li>How might this be applied to your AS or A2 coursework? </li></ul>