While doing some readings for my blogging class, I stumbled on this:
In autobiography, [genres] provide more or less canonical ways of organizing the
account of a life. The conventional autobiographical genres, of course, reflect idealized
cultural patterns. Many are familiar: the selfless seeker after the public interest,
the sacrificing family man, the Bildungsroman with its assurance of learning
from experience, the ironic and detached observer of the absurdities of the contemporary
human condition (in any age), the guardian mother shielding the
young, the seeker after spontaneous self-expression, the forgiving victim of society’s
outrages, the apologia of the misunderstood public man, and so on.
-Sturrock, John. “Theory Versus Autobiography.” (40)
Thank you, Mr. Sturrock! Finally, I can identify the genre of my blog. Clearly, it's the guardian mother shielding the young. No? The forgiving victim of society's outrages? No again?
Fine, fine. Let's go with the other one: the ironic and detached observer of the absurdities of the contemporary human condition (in any age). And while we're at it, let's throw in a dash of "spontaneous self expression."
I guess my ironic and detached response to Sturrock's analysis sums up my feelings on genre. As a postmodern student of English, I think I'm obligated to sneer at any attempt towards strict defined boundaries, which is basically what genre boils down to. On the other hand, a part of me actually feels relieved that at least an attempt for definition exists, that I can point to some sort of guiding principle and structure. To wrap things up in an appropriately pithy manner, I guess any definition, genre included, should be adopted only as long as it provides meaningful lines of discourse without obstructing significant lines of discussion.
Now all we have to do is find definitions for "discourse", "obstruct", "discussion", and, probably, "meaningful."
Tune in next time, for more observations of the absurdities of the contemporary human condition (in any age, but probably this one.)
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