What Are the Best Tips for Genre Analysis?

Mark Wollacott

The best tips for genre analysis are to clearly define the purpose of the analysis, to focus on that objective and to use a variety of analytical techniques. Not all of them will work, but it will ensure a good job is done. When conducting genre analysis, it is important to also understand the genre being analyzed and to approach it in an open-minded manner. Having an agenda when approaching any kind of analysis automatically skews the results.

It's important to study various texts when performing a genre analysis.
It's important to study various texts when performing a genre analysis.

Genre refers to a specific branch of a type of popular culture or art. Genres are often subdivisions, which are bound together by common themes, content and style. In this way, a common element of science fiction stories is a futuristic setting with theoretically-possible scientific advancements and magical realism is a real-world setting with a single element of magic that is passed off as being normal in that world. Any researcher in genre should know the genre he or she is researching and analyzing in some depth.

Examining character relationships is useful when performing a genre analysis.
Examining character relationships is useful when performing a genre analysis.

Genre analysis takes one genre, say sci-fi, and breaks it down into its core component parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The form this analysis takes varies depending on the medium in which the genre takes place. Sci-fi tends to take place in literature, movies, TV and comics. Other genres, such as Gothic, also take place in music.

A genre can be analyzed from a feminist viewpoint.
A genre can be analyzed from a feminist viewpoint.

A good tip for genre analysis is to look at both the influences on the genre from before its inception and during its development. It is also good to analyze the genre with psychologist Carl Jung’s ideas on archetypes in mind. The analysts should ask themselves if the genre uses specific character archetypes such as heroes, villains and mad scientists.

The concept of genre analysis is widely taught in college-level English literature courses.
The concept of genre analysis is widely taught in college-level English literature courses.

If all genres are bound by conventions, it makes sense for the analyst to examine those conventions. This means first identifying what the conventions of any given genre are, how they came about and how often are they kept to. The analyst should compare the original conventions that bound the genre together in the first place and modern conventions to see if they are the same or have changed over time.

Music genre analysis can also look at influences and conventions. It, like with art and literature, can also examine the use of metaphors, allegories and puns. The use of words and the accumulation of signature phrases, terminology and ticks are part of the development of a genre.

These are basic ways of approaching genre analysis. Genre analysis can also be performed from a number of other analytical viewpoints. A genre can be analyzed from a feminist or gender viewpoint as much as from an aesthetic one.

When conducting genre analysis, it is important to also understand the genre being analyzed and to approach it in an open-minded manner.
When conducting genre analysis, it is important to also understand the genre being analyzed and to approach it in an open-minded manner.

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