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G is for Genre

Teacher training and Development

G is for Genre



Genre (play /ˈʒɑːnrə/ or /ˈɑːnrə/; from French, genre French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ʁ], “kind” or “sort”, from Latin: genus (stem gener-), Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.
from Wikipedia; also follow this Wikipedia link for a list of literary genres

Thinking Task

Watch this video of Peter Sellers and think about the features of the genre he is delivering.
How exactly has he achieved his intended effect?




Peter Sellers delivers the words of the famous Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night” in the same manner that a Shakesperean actor would deliver the monologue from Richard III – he is not only dressed and surrounded by the props which we associate with William Shakespeare’s Richard III but his spoken style of delivery imitates the spoken features of this particular theatrical genre.
The effect is hilarious.
Is he insinuating that the manner of delivery may sometimes assign some kind of aura to the words that they might otherwise not have?
I don’t know. But what he (or his director) has created is a wonderful starter for discussions on the notion of genre.
Peter Sellers is flouting Grice’s conversational maxim of manner in the deliberate way that artists do in order to generate thought or to create a comical effect.
Imagine if the Beatles set Richard II’s monologue into music similar to a Hard Day’s night. Would we take the words as seriously then, I wonder.

Related Posts 


Some Books on Discourse Analysis

Brown, G., & Yule, G., 1983, Discourse Analysis, Cambridge University Press
Cook, G, 1989, Discourse, Oxford University Press  (several pages can be read on Google Books)
Johnstone, B., 2003, Discourse Analysis, Blackwell
McCarthy, M. 1991, Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers, Cambridge University Press
Partridge, B., 2006, Discourse Analysis – an Introduction,  Continuum International
Thornbury, S., 2005, Beyond the Sentence, Macmillan Education

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7 Responses

  1. Adam Simpson says:

    Here’s another great one, from Monty Python. It’s a bit trickier to follow, but they do a great job of poking fun at the way that certain people are ‘supposed’ to speak:
    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPSzPGrazPo?version=3&hl=en_US&w=420&h=315]

  2. […] Discussing genre in class Posted on 23 October, 2012 by Simon Thomas Marisa Constantinides shows how you might start an interesting discussion on genre with high-level English language learners and….Share this post:Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on FacebookGoogle Buzz-up this […]

  3. icaltefl says:

    Interesting ideas. I think the Monty Python is, as you say, a little advanced language wise for most classes. As an “opposite” take to the Peter Sellers sketch you could try using this clip from YouTube:
    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXbrSALG684?version=3&hl=en_US&w=560&h=315]

    It has a rap version of the Wordsworth poem, Daffodils.

    • Thanks, very useful as well
      Here is the poem by Wordsworth
      I wandered lonely as a cloud
      That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
      When all at once I saw a crowd,
      A host, of golden daffodils;
      Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
      Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
      Continuous as the stars that shine
      And twinkle on the milky way,
      They stretched in never-ending line
      Along the margin of a bay:
      Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
      Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
      The waves beside them danced; but they
      Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
      A poet could not but be gay,
      In such a jocund company:
      I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
      What wealth the show to me had brought:
      For oft, when on my couch I lie
      In vacant or in pensive mood,
      They flash upon that inward eye
      Which is the bliss of solitude;
      And then my heart with pleasure fills,
      And dances with the daffodils.
      William Wordsworth

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