The Ideology of Genre

A Comparative Study of Generic Instability

By (author) Thomas O. Beebee

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 September 1994

Length of book:

312 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271025704

In a series of comparative essays on a range of texts embracing both high and popular culture from the early modern era to the contemporary period, The Ideology of Genre counters both formalists and advocates of the "death of genre," arguing instead for the inevitability of genre as discursive mediation. At the same time, Beebee demonstrates that genres are inherently unstable because they are produced intertextually, by a system of differences without positive terms. In short, genre is the way texts get used. To deny that genres exist is to deny, in a sense, the possibility of reading; if genres exist, on the other hand, then they exist not as essences but as differences, and thus those places within and between texts where genres "collide" reveal the connections between generic status, interpretive strategy, ideology, and the use-value of language.

“This is a learned and lively book. It is a scholarly essay that makes for absorbing as well as highly enjoyable reading; it functions as an initiation to modern genre theory while making an important move within that field; it deals with culture high and popular, and a range of texts from the early modern era to the contemporary period; and its writing runs a generic gambit of its own, now theoretical exposition, now ingenious criticism, now theoretical fiction.”

—Ross Chambers, University of Michigan