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“Structuralism isn’t interested in what a text means, but in how a text means what it means” – Lois Tyson
Genre Studies are part of the Structuralist approach to literary analysis. Lois Tyson defines Structuralism this way: “Structuralism sees itself as a human science whose effort is to understand, in a systematic way, the fundamental structures that underlie all human experience and, therefore, all human behavior and production” (209-210). Literary Structuralists, therefore, are not so interested in interpretation, but rather attempt to find patterns and types that connect (ideally) all works of literature. One of the main branches is the study of genre.
Many Structuralist critics believe that all literature genres can be reduced to the retelling of a few basic myths. By creating this rigid structure of genre, Structuralists believe that we can recognize the commonality of human experience. However, as we’ll see in this section with Alice, it is not always an easy thing to do. Alice is a pretty tricky work that defies the conventions of most genres. However, it is still useful for us to examine the advantages and limitations of the various labels, as each potential “genre” highlights different, important aspects of Alice.
Alice as Children's Literature
Alice as Nonsense Literature
Alice as Play Literature
Want to Read More about Genre Studies?
Wikipedia Article on Genre Studies
An Introduction to Genre Theory by Daniel Chandler
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