Writing about the institutional decline of theory at the end of the twentieth century, Nicholas Dames (2012: 163–64) observes that theory, once seen as “the key to all the world’s things,” gradually became “just another thing-in-the-world.” The reverse, I think, could be said of genre in the twenty-first century. Once easily dismissed as flat, repetitive, and prosaic—the enemy of the literary—genre has today emerged as an indispensable concept for both contemporary literary study and the study of contemporary literature. Although journals devoted to work on genre have been around since the late 1960s, scholarly treatments of the topic have exploded in the twenty-first century. A cursory glance at the MLA International Bibliography reveals as much: peer-reviewed publications with “genre” in their title increased significantly from the 1980s (398) to the 1990s (651), but then nearly doubled in the 2000s (1263). The 2010s have kept pace, with more than 1000...
Contemporary Drift: Genre, Historicism, and the Problem of the Present, by Theodore Martin; Minor Characters Have Their Day: Genre and the Contemporary Literary Marketplace, by Jeremy Rosen
Mitchum Huehls is associate professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Qualified Hope: A Postmodern Politics of Time (2009) and After Critique: Twenty-First-Century Fiction in a Neoliberal Age (2016), and coeditor, along with Rachel Greenwald Smith, of Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture (2017).
Mitchum Huehls; Contemporary Drift: Genre, Historicism, and the Problem of the Present, by Theodore Martin; Minor Characters Have Their Day: Genre and the Contemporary Literary Marketplace, by Jeremy Rosen. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 September 2019; 65 (3): 289–298. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-7852097
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