Genre: How It's Done


Teachers can use genre to introduce 21st century skills into their classrooms. Before teaching students on genre, teachers should have already informed their students on what Rhetoric is by visiting the Teaching Rhetoric page. A teacher cannot teach genre without first teaching rhetoric. When teaching genre in a classroom, educators must know the key aspects of genre: Genre as a Life Form, The Patterns Genre Hold, and The Community Genre Represents. Under each main idea teachers will find definitions and examples of the key terms as well as input of ways to get the information across to students in the following article. As a whole, this page will give teachers insight on how a paper on genre should be written as well as how to teach it to their students.

Key Terms and Ideas

Genre as a Life Form and Life Style


In Charles Bazerman's "Genre and Identity: Citizenship in the Age of the Internet and the Age of Global Capitalism" he gives a great definition of what it means for genre to be a form of life. When speaking of genre as a life form, he's not talking about an actual moving, breathing, talking life form. Instead, he is describing a form of life that brings people together. Genre gets them talking and engaged on the same subject. They're all there for the same purpose, and much like a church or a restaurant, people know what they're going to get when they visit a website with a certain genre; and once those users are there, they start to become that genre. Bazerman puts it nicely by saying, "You adopt a frame of mind, set your hopes, plan accordingly, and begin acting with that orientation." Just like how there's a different way a person would act in church compared to a restaurant, one would act differently and have a dissimilar state of mind depending on the genre they’re looking at. People ultimately become a life form of the genre they’re involved with.


Before teaching students how to write about genre as a life form, the teacher must first master the skill of genre analysis. In this example by a student, he talks about how new users of movie fancast sites start to slowly partake and develop the life style and life form of the genre.

In “Genre and Identity” Charles Bazerman talks about genre as a lifestyle. He explains that, “[I]f you hang around a certain place long enough you will become that kind of person who hangs around that kind of place” (Bazerman 14). This is what happens to the users who create and contribute to fancasts on different fancast websites. Users on the sites learn their way around pretty quickly. At first, they don’t know how to critique a fancast, or how to make one effectively. All they know is that superheroes movies are interesting. However, after being around the site, reading fancasts, and investigating what other people had to say about fancasts, users begin to become fancast creators. They begin to look at fancasts critically, and start to comment on them. They partake in website activities, and eventually become members of the fancast community and contributors of the genre Good use of Bazerman.


Teachers can take a lot away from what this particular student says about how genre as a life form molds and shapes a person. The example proves that genre can in fact influence what a person does on a website. If this were any other genre, the circumstances might not be the same. The specific genre of movie fancasts has its own purpose, ideas, and ways of thinking. When one hangs around a fancast site long enough, they start to become fancast creators.

Having your students write a paper on genre can really help them understand what it means for a genre to be a form of life. After the student explored the website and did research on it, he was able to gain a better understanding of genre as a life style. He used Bazerman's work to fully comprehend the topic. It's important for teachers to make sure that students are using scholarly sources in their work on genre. It helps the students out tremendously while also giving the paper validity.

The Patterns Genre Hold


The patterns of genre hold are a key aspect to figuring out what kind of genre you're looking at. Every genre has different patterns that go along with it. For example, tweets have hash tags while Facebook statuses have like buttons. The patterns are different. One can expect certain patterns once they've been around the genre long enough. The example below describes the patterns of movie fancasts and why they're important to the genre.


The genre of fancasts has its own unique members and it has its own distinctive patterns as well. Fancasts are very predictable when it comes to the format. The creator usually starts off with an explanation of the fancast he/she is doing and why, and then dives into the casting. For example, in an Amazing Spiderman 2 fancast made by Lizard1 he begins by telling his audience “Here is my fancast for who I would like to see in the sequel, this fancast of course has actors from the previous film.” Right away he tells his audience what he’s doing, and lets them know what to expect. The same can be seen in a Power Rangers fancast made by user, Kevin Carter. Carter starts off his fancast by saying, “This has been done before, but now it is revisited and told differently.” He knows his audience has seen Power Rangers fancasts before, but he wants them to know that his is different from the rest; which is also what the community wants to see. The users value originality. Even if the actor put into the role is a bad choice, the creator of the fancast will still get credit for originality. Many of the users become angry if a user steals other users choices. Originality is a key component to fancasts. therefor, originality can be seen as a pattern. It's hard to find fancasts with the exact same actors and actresses drafted into roles. Both fancasts then go on to post pictures of the actor next to a picture of the character he/she will be playing. In Lizard1’s fancast he has a picture of Olivia Wilde next to a picture of the superhero, Black Cat. He does this for every new character that was not in the first Amazing Spiderman movie. In Carter’s cast he has a picture of Henry Cavill next to a picture of the Red Ranger. He goes on to do this with each member of the fancast. The patterns don’t stop here though. Under each picture of the actor and the superhero there’s a description of why he/she is right for the role. Under Wilde’s picture, Lizard1 states, “Olivia Wilde is a charming, beautiful, sexy, smart actress whom I feel can bring a lot to Black Cat and do her justice.” Carter does the same thing with his choices. Malcopunch also did this in his Fantastic 4 fancast. There’s a sense of community here. There’s a certain way to make the fancasts. Whether through screening or intimidation, the genre of fancasts follows the same set-up, which creates patterns for the genre of fancast.



Teachers can take a couple of points away from this paper the student wrote. First of all, the student shows that he went through in depth research to find the patters throughout the websites he visited. Teachers must make sure their students do this. To find patters, one must visit many websites and go through many different pages on those sites. This is vital when teaching about genre.

The second good thing this student does in his paper, is he gives major details of the patterns he found. He talks about the pictures, what's below the pictures, and why they are there. Teachers need to do the same thing while teaching about patterns in genre. Their students must learn to pick out every single detail within the patterns. Doing a paper over patterns in genre is an excellent way to achieve that. Notice at the end how this student ties the patterns of genre into the idea of community. Teachers must make certain that they are connecting all of the aspects of genre ass well. when teaching genre, find a way to connect all of the parts of it. For it's not truly genre unless all of the pieces are working together.

The Community Genre Represents


The community genre represents is highly important. Every genre represents a specific community. As the example below says, movie fancast genre represents the community of movie lovers, specifically comic book movie lovers. The community has a set of rules and expectations that go along with it. If people in the community do not follow these expected rules, guidelines, and rules, they will eventually faze out of the community.


The great thing about fancasts is that even though only the well-organized, creative, legitimate ones are posted, anyone can comment and give their thoughts on them, as long as he/she stays within the rules the website gives. This creates a strong community where people can learn through others how to make a worthy fancast. The comment section is for members of the websites only, but it’s really easy for anyone to sign up and start using the comment section. The comment box is placed under of the fancasts. This is where people voice their opinions on a particular fancast. People are usually either very critical or highly appreciative of a user’s work. In a Batman fancast created by MCott62094, there’s a wide range of criticism from different users on the site. People either really liked it or really hated it. One user called the fancast “absolutely brilliant,” while another user said that a couple of the choices were okay but, “the rest blows.” In a Teen Titans fancast made by HawkBoy, one user commented that the casting of Daniel Radcliff as Robin was “risky” and “dangerous.” Although the criticisms can be harsh, they're very important to the community building aspect of the genre. It's expected for other users to be critical of the fancasts. Everyone is always trying to get better at making fancasts. Their goal is to make a perfect fancast that everyone loves. criticism is good because it gives them a good sense of how close they are to achieving their goal. People can express their opinions on the sites, but like a lot of other websites: trolling (causing a disturbance on purpose), cursing, and being overly mean are not allowed. People who do such things can even have their accounts taken away from them. There’s social order going on within the website. The users are responsible for posting clean, acceptable comments, and those who do not are taken off of the site.


While teaching about genre, teachers need to give focus on the community it represents. in this example, the student explains how the rules of the websites and the way the users give constructive criticism really give the genre a sense of community. this particular community represents the movie loving nerds. they have their own set of rules and regulations for the websites they contribute to. In order to teach about genre effectively, teachers need to preach this sense of community to their students. they can have their students write papers like this one, exploring community and the way it is formed, or hey can have class activities where students go online and find online communities. Either way, it is important for teachers to get the idea of community across to their students because it is so vital to the idea of genre. Students must explore different communities to really understand what they are and how they work. After students have a good handle on the topic of community, teachers can then start to inform their students on what an Ethnography is.


Genre is a fantastic and fun topic to teach about. It's extremely important to digital writing, but is expressed in many different ways throughout the internet. While teaching about genre, teachers must ensure that their students know what genre as a life style is, the patterns genre hold, and the community genre forms and represents. If teachers can teach those three things to their students effectively, their students will have no problem with writing a paper over genre like the student did in the examples on this page. Once teachers have learned how to teach genre to their students, they need to figure out how to bring the that [Application of Digital Media in the Classroom media] into the classroom. For more on genre and how it works, go to Internet Fandom for Dummies-Genre or to see how genre helps improve the rhetorical writing of blogs, go to Blogging with Genre in Mind

1. "Genre and Identity: Citizenship in the age if Internet and the Age of Global Capitalism." 2002.

See also What is Genre?

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