In my previous post about todays class I didn’t get to touch upon what genre is, and how semantic and syntactic meaning/structure comes into play here. Genre is basically a specific category from that of a literature or artistic background. Certain tropes (themes) run throughout and are associated to any given genre- such as the common horror trope ‘if you have sex you die’ or ‘true love’s kiss’ in the fairytale genre.
(Found this pretty extensive website about tropes within genres, which I thought was an interesting read: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GenreTropes).
Genres include a vast array of these themes, yet a single story will not contain every single aspect of its associated genre…otherwise the story would be overloaded – jam-packed with far too much information! A small example of this was demonstrated in class through a poster design for a Western film. We are shown a typical Hollywood Western font alongside three burly, dirty looking cowboys. We know they’re cowboys because of their outfits. We know its a western because of them, the setting, the colouration, the font, the barmaid/saloon looking woman. We don’t need to see any cacti, horses, trains, western ranches and so on to continue filling out the fact that this is a Western.
This is where semantic and syntactic explanation come into play. Semantics involves the meaning surrounding the particular outlook. Once can pick from the pool of words and things correlated to the specific genre. Then the way in which they are ordered is where syntactic structure begins to work. The specific parts are put together in an order that will carry the story through from beginning to end.
~ Princess, evil oppressor, fairy god mother, ball, prince, quest, find true love., happily ever after ~
Anywho, just wanted to quickly touch upon my learning before beginning the ICA…
The story I’ve chosen to explore this week is the Little Red Riding Hood. This fable falls under the fairytale genre, and derives from that of Charles Perrault and later on, as Little Red Cap from the Brothers Grimm fairytales.
If we focus upon the more commonly known Grimm version, some semantic units that story contains in accordance to the fairytale genre would be:
- An Aesop: An overarching lesson that is professed from the story. In this case ‘Do not talk to strangers, especially if you’re a lovely young woman, for you may find them to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
- The innocent damsel in distress: Red.
- The hero: The woodcutter.
- The villain: The wolf.
- Mystical setting: A forest.
- The forbidden fruit: Straying from the path to explore the unknown.
These are a few obvious themes that run throughout RRH and derive from the fairytale genre. Some semantics that are not present in this story are:
- ‘True love’s kiss’
- Fairy God mother
- Fantastic creatures (fairies, dragons etc)
- ‘Girl in the tower’
- Rule of seven: In accordance to their being seven of something: The Seven Dwarves.
- ‘Rags to royalty’
And so, the list goes on and on! The reason these particular pieces are not places into the fable of RRH is simply because this story was never intended to be about such things. It was never a princess love story and therefore these semantics were simply left out. I enjoyed this exercise and class today, simply because its fun to unpack stories and explore why each part has been put there. This exercise nicely demonstrated how genres function, and that once one understands the form of stories, they can begin to adapt them and reshape them in order to be told differently each time!