October 29, 2012

Genre Shift

I still have a few lingering questions concerning last week's discussion of Miller's "Genre as Social Action." For instance, I know a major talking point of our discussion was based on the quote, "we understand genres as typified rhetorical action based in recurrent situation" (Miller, 159). Miller establishes that our understanding of most things is socially constructed an engrained through repetition (repetition of experience or study); Burke would agree with this conception in terms of language (that the meaning of words is socially constructed and standardized through repetition). If we agree with this understanding of genre, Miller's argument has a huge impact on the grasp of the "character of a culture or historical period" (158).

While a valid point, I feel that this idea sparks a more in-depth question:

What does the evolution of genre say about a culture?

I want to know more about the ways in which humans feel the need to remediate, alter, and create anew. Is it change in mediums that facilitates the new (I am skeptical of this concept because according to Miller, genres are not mediums..yet they can evolve through mediums)? Are we in a perpetual cycle of remediation, remediation that eventually morphs a parent genre into an entirely new form for an entirely new function?

3 comments:

Zack Morris said...

I think the more adapted and detailed your definition of genre become the more adapted that specific culture has become. If a cultures understanding of genre has expanded then their way of thinking has allowed it to expand thus they have expanded.

Adam Schwartz said...

I agree with Zack. The culture that one lives in allows for the evolution of genres. Look at comedy for example. It is the most ambiguous genre I can think of. The genre of comedy has many interpretations in cultures worldwide. Something we may find funny here in the United States would not be funny in England or vice versa, but overtime we would find this from other cultures funny (an example would be The Office). I feel that the evolution of a genre is dependent on a culture and if a culture does not evolve then a genre does not evolve.

Shawn Binder said...

I think this idea that the more adapted we are the more a genre evolves is a very 21st century way of thinking. I personally think that new genres emerge from older ones just because in some ways, people feel they can only take a type of genre so far. As English majors, I think we all struggle with the idea of being unique and carving a place for ourselves by creating something fresh. I don't think that we have become more adapted in the sense that we're so much better off. Our understanding of genres is just further along because we have taken past genres as far as we could (or at least thought we could) and have tried to distance ourselves from them by creating new.

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