Genre and its Evolving Definitions

It’s interesting to think about the fact that the word “genre” has evolved over the years. Originally, it comes from both of/either a French word for “a kind,” or the English word “gender,” according to’s origin feature. As Kerry Dirk says in the essay, Navigating Genres, the word genre “used to have a bad reputation and may still make some people cringe. Genre used to refer primarily to form, which meant that writing in a particular genre was seen as simply a matter of filling in the blanks.” Of course, word definitions evolve, which is a basic understanding of linguistics in general. I believe that “genre” is one of the words that has been greatly influenced by the growth of new media and ways of communication. Now, it’s such a broad term that it’s practically ungraspable, and therefore undefinable. However, Amy J. Devitt words it beautifully, in Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept, as “dynamic patterning of human experience, as one of the concepts that enable us to construct our writing world.” This definition is just vague enough to work for the vague concept that is genre.

To be completely honest, I’d never really thought about my own definition of the word genre. I just considered it general categorization, and knew how it functioned within forms of art and entertainment. Having it defined, however, opens my eyes to a world of genre and how it shapes media in both digital and traditional ways of publication. Now that I can have a reasoning for its existence, a tangible explanation, I can further learn about what the different genres are and their importance to media.



I am most interested in working with the genre that aligns with music sharing websites, such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud. These websites are useful tools that benefit the world of musicians, music-listeners, and explorers of online art and creation.


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Works Cited:

Devitt, Amy J. “Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept.” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 44, No. 4, 1993.

Dirk, Kerry. “Navigating Genres.” Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, 2010.