The Concept of a Literary Genre

Stein Haugom Olsen


Genre theory, as it has developed in the last forty years, has

made use of what I call a constitutive concept of genre, a concept that has

built into it the assumption that genre plays a central epistemic role in the

interpretation of verbal discourse. In this paper I argue that there are

theoretical problems with such a concept that have not been recognized

and that make it unsuitable as a critical instrument in literary history and

literary studies. A fruitful concept of literary genre needs to be pragmatic

with only a heuristic and not an epistemic function. As an example, the

article looks at the criticism produced in connection with the picaresque

novel and in particular at the account given of the origin of the genre, an

account that could not have been given if one had employed a constitutive

concept of genre.


Text; Work; Genre; Interpretation; Appreciation

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Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy
Published by sdvig press, Genève-Lausanne
ISSN  2281-9177

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