Concept of Genre (Discussion)
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A screenshot reproduced in Horizons West, p. 22. See more images.
- Kitses sees the Western as containing a "philosophical dialectic," which he explains in terms of a "series of antinomies." What does he mean by this? He then charts them in a table that balances "The Wilderness" against "Civilization." How does this dialectic play out in the My Darling Clementine scene above? Choose a Western you've seen and provide examples from it that illustrate this. Could this notion of a dialectic be applied to other genres?
- Kitses lists four aspects of the genre that he sees as central to its definition (below). What does he mean by each of these and how might they apply to genres other than the Western? Do they fit film noir, for example?
- Buscombe believes that one can escape the "empiricist dilemma" by relying on Wellek and Warren's notion of "inner form" and "outer form." What does he mean by each of these terms?
- What categories does he provide for aspects of outer form? How would these apply to the My Darling Clementine clip?
- Choose a genre other than the Western. How would you describe its outer form?
- What aspect of Kitses' definition of genre corresponds to outer form?
- Collins's article is "A Reply to Ed Buscombe." So, what does he feel is wrong with Buscombe's approach?
- What approach to genre does Collins propose instead of outer form? How would this apply to the My Darling Clementine clip?
- Choose a genre other than the Western. How would you describe it in terms of Collins's approach?
- Jim Kitses, Horizons West (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969) 6-27.
- Edward Buscombe, "The Idea of Genre in the American Cinema," Screen, 11.2 (1970): 33-45.
- Richard Collins, "Genre: A Reply to Ed Buscombe," Movies and Methods, ed. Bill Nichols (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976) 157-163.