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Catharine Abell: Genre and Medium

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Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp, March 6, 4-6pm

Works in different media can belong to the same genre: there are comic films, plays and novels, and there are noir novels and noir films. Many of the claims made about the nature of genre – that genres consist in sets of features or sets of conventions, for example – seem to preclude genres from spanning media, or at least to restrict too severely the conditions under which they can do so. While noir novels and noir films may share features or conventions of character, setting and plot, these are not generally sufficient to determine their membership of the noir genre. Noir films incorporate a number of visual features that are crucial to their identify as noir films. I examine the purpose that medium specific features of works play in determining their genre membership, and argue that works in different media can share a genre in virtue of the purposes that their features serve.