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genres, another need to label

aybala50's picture

As Dimock points out, theorists from Benedetto Croce to Jacques Derrida have objected to the concept of genre because something as complex as literature cannot be "anatomized ahead of time, segregated by permanent grouping." Categorizing literature may seem like an easier way of finding a specific read that fits one's interest; however this categorization of literature speaks closely to the human need to label. As these theorists have argued, literature is too complex to be broken down into different categories before they are even written. It is true that with the passage of time these categories have changed, but for a work of literature that is written in a certain period, it has to be placed within a genre, whether it fits perfectly or not. There are many genres, as well as sub-categories. This creation of genre for literary work is very similar to the labeling of humans in everyday life.

The activity we did in class is very closely related to this topic of genre in that we labeled ourselves. These labels were 'time appropriate', just as different genres change or adapt based on the time they are looked at. Today, we place ourselves in categories deemed appropriate by society or the culture we find ourselves in. Labeling people, whether negatively or positively, does the same thing that placing literature into genres does: we are constricted in these labels and we just become another genre.


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