Genre Meshing as Social Action: The Rhetoric of Formal Hybridity in Contemporary Texts (NeMLA 2022)
As Anis Bawarshi and Mary Jo Reiff argue in Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy, genres are not mere “text types,” buckets that writers fill with familiar conventions, but dynamic “social actions” that exist in activity systems (3, 78). And as suggested by contemporary texts across modes and media, for instance Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home (which blends features of comics, autobiography, comedy, and tragedy) or Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (which merges conventions of horror movies and westerns), contemporary authors and artists appear to be increasingly invested in the work of challenging genre conventions and meshing genres. They are increasingly interested in formal and inevitably rhetorical hybridity that complements and extends on the kind of cultural hybridity that Homi K. Bhabha theorizes in The Location of Culture and other works about the postcolonial world. Consequently, these authors and artists are redefining the social actions that these intermeshed or interconnected genres perform in the increasingly globalized and thus seemingly interconnected times.
What is the function of contemporary genre-meshing across modes and media including but not limited to books, stories, images, films, or video games? And what social actions do formally hybridized texts perform in their contemporary cultural contexts, for example in the face of calls for cultural purification made by Brexit or a slogan such as “Make America Great Again”? How do these texts challenge or redefine social types and stereotypes of different kinds toward progressive or other ends? Please submit 200-300-word proposals here: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/19133