Κολέγιο CITY College
Main Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
16 December 2019

The English Studies Department Subverts Genres

The final Personal and Professional Development seminar of the Autumn semester that took place on Tuesday, 10th December combined the areas of literature, translation and adaptation under the umbrella area of genres and their subversion. Joining forces, Dr. Cathy Marazi and Dr. Kelly Pasmatzi, delivered the seminar titled: ‘Subvert me if you can’: literary genres and going against expectations.

Dr. Cathy Marazi and Dr. Kelly Pasmatzi, delivered the seminar titled: ‘Subvert me if you can’

We are all familiar with genres in one way or another. We may rely on genres – types or kinds – of literature, film, TV series, videogames to choose what we will read, watch or play. The main reason for this is because genres contain certain formulae or motifs that have been developed and refined over the years that enable us to expect certain things from certain genres. When reading a fairy tale, we expect there to be a happy ending; when watching a horror movie, we expect to be shocked and scared.

Genres, however, are not as clear-cut as they may appear. There are numerous instances of hybrid genres, such as that of the superhero, as well as sub-genres such as the black comedy, that blend, alter and change certain expectations. What is more, one must be aware that a romance novel and a romantic film are not exactly the same genre due to change in medium. Furthermore, one ought not overlook how genres are used and employed so as to distinguish and in some cases dictate the formulation of canons as well as situate literary and cultural products into the high-literature or low (pop) literature categories thus determining what is taught in schools and universities. As pointed out, it is also important to see what is missing from genre categories.

Dr. Cathy Marazi and Dr. Kelly Pasmatzi, delivered the seminar titled: ‘Subvert me if you can’

The focus of the seminar in question was to raise awareness towards instances where writers choose to go against and challenge genre expectations and conventions. This may be due to the purpose of the writer when catering to larger mainstream audiences such as in the case of film adaptations, or due to changes in society such as the case with feminist movements and gender representation. The examples drawn upon were numerous including: Thelma and Louise (1991), The Dark Knight (2008), Reservoir Dogs (1995), Scream (1996), La La Land (2016), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Clockwork Orange (1971), Joker (2019), Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) and Pride and Prejudice (1813), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (book 1958 and film 1961), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (book 1994 and film 2001), reference to the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, as well as other versions of these fairy tales (British versions).

Subverting genre calls into question stereotypes, dominant ideologies and perspectives that may be promoted as the status quo. To that effect, Dr Pasmatzi and Dr Marazi called on the attendees of the seminar to consider and subvert one of the earliest types of literature we are all exposed to that of the fairy tale. Taking one of the most familiar fairy tales, that of Cinderella, the members of the audience were asked to work in groups and subvert any aspect they chose. The results were highly creative, humourous but also demonstrated serious sociological and ideological issues that we ought not take at face value but approach critically and reconsider from other perspective especially as all literature can and does promote ideological meanings and can greatly influence how we view the world around us and the people living in it.

 

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