Genre is a category, or to use Aristotle's term, a species. It is a category of literature, arts, music, and other forms of composition, to classify works of shared conventions, practices, and aesthetics. A typical example would be poetry. Subgenre is a single division of a given genre. In this example, epic poetry, the sonnet, haiku are subgenres of poetry. But who gets to decide what is genre, subgenre, and how? These would be some of the main questions we willl address in this course.
Genre theory can teach us a fascinating history of how various cultures imagine their forms of creative expression. The development of genres and subgenres reveal complex histories on who has the power to define and redefine creative expression. For example, the novel, now a dominant and prestigious global literary genre, was once considered an inferior and working-class genre in Europe over a century ago. The novel genre then developed into numerous subgenres, which are today placed under one large umbrella that is "genre-fiction," such as sci-fi, fantasy, horror, gothic, mystery etc.. However, the borders between these subgenres and the larger genre itself are always contested and reformulated. Through the history of genre and subgenre, we get to learn about literary taste and literary criticism, and whose definitions and conventions have changed the course of literature and the arts, and for what reason. The dominance of the historical novel today, for example, is attributed to larger phenomenon such as decolonization, feminism, and anti-racism. The sociopolitical urge to utilize fiction to address larger issues has not only boosted the impact of the historical novel but "elevated" it to become a common form of the genre itself.
Within this grand history, Arabic literature has a complex and rich story to tell about genre and subgenre. The most obvious example here, which will be our entry point in this course, is 1001 Nights (also known as The Nights, or The Arabian Nigh
Course Attributes: AS HUM; AS LCD