The Shifting Definitions of Genre

Essays on Labeling Films, Television Shows and Media


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About the Book

Histories of science fiction often dicuss Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as a classic work within the genre—yet the term “science fiction” had not been invented at the time of the film’s release. If the genre did not have a name, did it exist? Does retroactive assignment to a genre change our understanding of a film? Do films shift in meaning and status as the name of a genre changes meaning over time?
These provocative questions are at the heart of this book, whose thirteen essays examine the varying constructions of genre within film, television, and other entertainment media. Collectively, the authors argue that generic labels are largely irrelevant or even detrimental to the works to which they are applied.
Part One examines the meanings of genre and reveals how the media is involved in the production and dissemination of generic definitions. Part Two considers specific films (or groups of films) and their relationships within various categorizations. Part Three focuses on the closely tied concepts of history and memory as they relate to the perceptions of genre.

About the Author(s)

Lincoln Geraghty is principal lecturer in film studies in the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. He serves as editorial advisor for The Journal of Popular Culture, Reconstruction and Atlantis. He is also the editor of The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film and Culture (2008).
Mark Jancovich is a professor of film and television studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in the United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Lincoln Geraghty and Mark Jancovich
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3430-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0818-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Introduction: Generic Canons

Lincoln Geraghty and Mark Jancovich      1


1. Pale Shadows: Narrative Hierarchies in the Historiography of 1940s Horror

Mark Jancovich      15

2. The Independent Film Channel: Creating a Genre and Brand Across Small Screens, Big Screens, and the Virtual World

Liza Treviño      33

3. “Off-Beat” as a Generic Designation in Variety Reviews

Jason Scott      52


4. Film Noir as Male Melodrama: The Politics of Film Genre Labeling

Janet Staiger      71

5. Beyond the Valley of the Classical Hollywood Cinema: Rethinking the “Loathsome Film” of 1970

Harry M. Benshoff      92

6. Rethinking the History of European Horror: Television, La porta sul buio and Historias para no dormir

Andrew Willis      110

7. Can Rock Movies Be Musicals? The Case of This Is Spinal Tap

Andrew Caine      124

8. “A Most Historic Period of Change”: The Western, the Epic and Dances with Wolves

James Russell      142

9. “A Term Rather Too General to Be Helpful”: Struggling with Genre in Reality TV

Su Holmes      159


10. Repackaging Generation One: Genre, Fandom, and The Transformers as Adult/Children’s Television

Lincoln Geraghty      181

11. Subcultural Tastes, Genre Boundaries and Fan Canons Brigid Cherry      201

12. Monster Legacies: Memory, Technology and Horror History

Peter Hutchings      216

13. “Just Men in Tights”: Rewriting Silver Age Comics in an Era of Multiplicity

Henry Jenkins      229

Notes on Contributors      245

Index      249

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Midwest Book Review.