Understanding Genre Theory

After reading through Dean’s Genre theory I realized I nary understood the breadth of genres. I was under the impression that, as Dean put it, “(a) primarily literary, (b) entirely defined by textual regularities in form and content, (c) fixed and immutable”. I had always assumed genres were the worlds way of sorting various media into groups of similar interest, and thus had used genre as a way to define myself as a consumer. Labeling situations as definitive genres is an easy way to overlook their importance. As Dean says “genres are not discrete. They depend on each other and interrelate in complex ways.” Merely changing minuscule details about a situation could add other applicable genres or possibly change the genre drastically, for instance Dean notes ” selecting and appropriate greeting card depends partly on the situation — birthday, graduation, death, mother’s day” the same act of giving a greeting card can be so uplifting on a birthday and so utterly depressing for death. The deep connection between the core genres are easy for me to see. 
 
When breaking down the seven main characteristics of genre Bawarshi is quoted saying “a social code of behavior is established between the reader and the author”. At first I didn’t quiet understand how genres could be social but further reading lead me to the conclusion that text and situations are affected by social aspects the same way other interactions are. I believe that defining text based of the social consequences we accept by writing it is how Dean thinks genres are social. I particularly liked the example given about how if you submit a poem when a resume is expected you might not get the job, unless the job is poet, this example made me understand that social context plays a major role in defining the characteristics of genre.
 
“Because they both establish and enforce relationships genres are rhetorical” is exactly what it took for me to understand that genres are rhetorical. Dean makes a very good point that genres have obligatory expectations but those expectations are not all encompassing of a genre. Authors get the freedom to choose how they deliver their expected material and those choices are rhetorical. 
 
So far I understand that genres are social and rhetorical, so it is only natural they are dynamic as well. Dean draws the conclusion that “genres change, they create change in their contexts”
Depending on the rhetorical choices made the outcome of a social situation may change drastically. That change is why genres are dynamic. If every choice lead down the same metaphorical path then genres would not be dynamic but since genres are flexible and changing we have dynamic outcomes.
 
In reading Dean’s observations of genres being historical I understand the concept of genres relying on past genres however I do not understand how or why this must occur. The connection between past genres and new genres surely exists but I can not see how Dean draws the line from correlation to causation. Alongside historical I fail to see how genres are cultural. This may be my own folly with a lack of understanding of culture but I can not understand how culture and genre are intertwined. I do think that you need one to define the other however I don’t fully understand either so I can not make the connection. Historical and Cultural genres seem to have the most complex roots and I believe that many things are not entirely addressed by Dean in his short synopsis of these specific characteristics.
 
Situated context makes more sense to me than cultural even though they seem to be two sides of the same coin. I completely agree with Dean when he notes “Even before we look at it, we have oriented ourselves to ways of reading that genre”. Given mirco level  interactions it is obvious that genre has many situated potentialities and situation is a fantastic way to define genre. I also understand how genres are ideological. It seems clear when you combine genres that are social, cultural and situated you would get an ideological genre. Because social and cultural values and ideologies vary in different situations their will be conflict that will arise and cause genres to clash. I understand what Dean means when he says “genres carry social and political implications because of genres’ ideological aspects.”
 
Finally I understood most of what Dean had to say about genre, however I don’t think I really understand the purpose of his writing. It seems like Dean wishes educators to broaden students understanding of the term genre however I feel that most of his writing was overly complicated. I honestly think he would have been better off coining a new term instead of trying to drastically change the meaning of genre. I don’t think I could use genre the way Dean wants genre to be used after just reading this.
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