Genre: “A French term for a kind, a literary type or class. The major classical genres were: epic, tragedy, lyric, comedy and satire, to which now would be added novel and short story. From the Renaissance and until well on into the eighteenth century, the genres were carefully distinguished, and writers were expected to follow the rules prescribed for them.” (J. A. Cuddon Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 1976)
»» genre often identified with the formulaic, the conventional, with prescribed rules, a conventionalization constraints (formal and/or thematic)
Classicist / Neoclassicist criticism ruled-governed: hopes to establish, and to prescribe the rules of correct writing; correctness largely dependes on conformity with generic requirements; genres as objects of taxonomy (enumerating and classifying empirically existing genres) »» relieance on the system of genres organized the cultural practices involved in lietarture
-- approaching literature through genres is “as primitive and childish as the old pre-Copernican ideas of astronomy” -- “every work is its own genre” (Friedrich Schlegel, 1790s)
-- genre theory as a “worm-eaten beam” from “the old shack of scholasticism.” (Victor Hugo, preface to Cromwell, 1827)
-- Wordsworth’s poetry “partakes of, and is carried along with, the revolutionary movement of our age: the political changes of the day were the model on which he formed and conducted his poetical experiments. His Muse … is a levelling one. It proceeds on a principle of equality (…) His popular, inartifical style gets rid (of a blow) of all the trappings of verse, all the high places of poetry … All the traditions of learning, all the superstitions of the age, are obliterated and effaced. We begin de novo, on a tabula rasa of poetry. (…) [This poetry rises] to the utmost pitch of singularity and paradox … According to the prevailing notions, all was to be natural and...