Comics and Genre

In Aaron Meskin & Roy T. Cook (eds.), The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach. Blackwell. pp. 68--84 (2012)
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An adequate account of the nature of genre and of the criteria for genre membership is essential to understanding the nature of the various categories into which comics can be classified. Because they fail adequately to distinguish genre categories from other ways of categorizing works, including categorizations according to medium or according to style, previous accounts of genre fail to illuminate the nature of comics categories. I argue that genres are sets of conventions that have developed as means of addressing particular interpretative and/or evaluative concerns, and have a history of co‐instantiation within a community, such that a work’s belonging to some genre generates interpretative and evaluative expectations among the members of that community. Genres are distinct from styles in consisting of conventions, and are distinct from media both in consisting of conventions and in generating interpretative and evaluative expectations.

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Catharine Abell
Oxford University


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