Genre definition: Genre is the organization and classification of writing.
What is Genre in Literature?
What does genre mean? Genre is the organization of literature into categories based on the type of writing the piece exemplifies through its content, form, or style.
Example of Literary Genre
The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke fits under the genre of poetry because its written with lines that meter and rhythm and is divided into stanzas.
It does not follow the traditional sentence-paragraph format that is seen in other genres
Types of Literary Genre
There are a few different types of genre in literature. Let’s examine a few of them.
Poetry: Poetry is a major literary genre that can take many forms. Some common characteristics that poetry shares are that it is written in lines that have meter and rhythm. These lines are put together to form stanza in contrast to other writings that utilize sentences that are divided into paragraphs. Poetry often relies heavily on figurative language such as metaphors and similes in order to convey meanings and create images for the reader.
- “Sonnet 18” is a poem by William Shakespeare that falls within this category of literature. It is a structured poem that consists of 14 lines that follow a meter (iambic pentameter) and a rhyme scheme that is consist with Shakespearean Sonnets.
Drama: This literary genre is often also referred to as a play and is performed in front of an audience. Dramas are written through dialogue and include stage directions for the actors to follow.
- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde would be considered a drama because it is written through dialogue in the form of a script that includes stage directions to aid the actors in the performance of the play.
Prose: Prose is a type of writing that is written through the use of sentences. These sentences are combined to form paragraphs. This type of writing is broad and includes both fiction and non-fiction.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an example of fictional prose. It is written in complete sentences and divided through paragraphs.
Fiction: Fiction is a type of prose that is not real. Authors have the freedom to create a story based on characters or events that are products of their imaginations. While fiction can be based on true events, the stories they tell are imaginative in nature.
Like poetry, this genre also uses figurative language; however, it is more structural in nature and more closely follows grammatical conventions. Fiction often follows Freytag’s plot pyramid that includes an exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and dénouement.
- The novel Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut is an example of a fictional story about the main character’s experience with his self-acclaimed ability to time travel.
Nonfiction: Nonfiction is another type of prose that is factual rather than imaginative in nature. Because it is more factual and less imaginative, it may use less figurative language. Nonfiction varies however from piece to piece. It may tell a story through a memoir or it could be strictly factual in nature like a history textbook.
- The memoir Night by Elie Wiesel is a memoir telling the story of Wiesel’s experience as a young Jewish boy during the Holocaust.
The Function of Genre
Genre is important in order to be able to organize writings based on their form, content, and style.
For example, this allows readers to discern whether or not the events being written about in a piece are factual or imaginative. Genre also distinguishes the purpose of the piece and the way in which it is to be delivered. In other words, plays are meant to be performed and speeches are meant to be delivered orally whereas novels and memoirs are meant to be read.
Summary: What Are Literary Genres?
Define genre in literature: Genre is the classification and organization of literary works into the following categories: poetry, drama, prose, fiction, and nonfiction. The works are divided based on their form, content, and style. While there are subcategories to each of these genres, these are the main categories in which literature is divided.
The short story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe is a fictional short story that is written in prose. It fits under the prose category because it is written using complete sentences that follow conventional grammar rules that are then formed into paragraphs.
The story is also identified as fictional because it is an imagined story that follows the plot structure.