Can a Literary Work Belong to More than One Genre?

Can a liteary work belong to more than one genre?

Visitors frequently ask this question because they often see literary works that are identified with a particular genre by publishers, advertisers, book stores, or libraries; and authors are often labeled according to the genre in which they specialize.

For example, Nora Roberts, who got her start as a Romance writer, some years ago made a successful transition into what many publishers call Mainstream that changed her career. She also writes science fiction and she still publishes romances. Some of her books belong to more than one of the genres in which she’s worked.

But the people who assign these genres don’t always agree with one another. They assign different genres to the same work or author; or they use different terms to denote the same genre.

Actually, many literary works belong to more than one genre and some belong to a number of them.

Part of the reason for the confusion over genres is that genre is not an easy subject to understand until you’ve thought a little about what the word genre means.

It’s possible for a work to belong to more than one genre if all of its generic properties are a subset of those of another genre or if different subsets of it’s generic properties are each a subset of a different genre.

(I go into this matter in greater detail at my feature at Electricka’s web site titled Literary Genre—A Definition.)

A literary genre is a distinctive type of literary composition that’s defined by its literary properties. Once you think it through, it’s easy to see why and how a single literary genre can be related to other literary genres which possess similar characteristics.

The same thing holds true for other creative arts like painting, sculpture, music, the stage, movies, and most of the other high arts. It’s also true for everyday arts like writing ads, painting signs, or graffiti.

Find out more about the nature and function of genre in all the arts at Electricka’s web site: click here.

2011, Decision Consulting, Inc. (DCI). All rights reserved. All copies must include this copyright statement.

This entry was posted in Arts Criticism, General, Literature and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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