I Know What I Know

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I Guess I Shouldn't Wonder

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B&N Genres

why my students seem to think generic distinctions in literature are more or less interchangeable. They call poems stories. Stories, novels. Novels, books. Books, novels.

Just look at this list of “categories” (really, genres) from Barnes and Noble. I find the store itself baffling enough in its organization. I hadn’t realized that they’d recreated the generic confusion on their website. See “fiction and literature”? What’s the difference? Is literature somehow distinct from fiction? And fiction from literature? Can no literature be fiction? Are graphic novels not fiction? Why are “mystery and crime” and “science fiction and fantasy” separate from fiction and literature?

If you were in Barnes and Noble and wanted to find, say, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, where would you go? It’s Victorian. Does that make it literature? Or just fiction? It’s also a mystery novel. So is it in mystery?

It’s no wonder my students are so damned confused about this stuff. There are two models for organizing books (the library and the bookstore) available to them, and they never enter one and the other is mind-bogglingly confusing.


Written by srogers

December 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. B&N, meet LC or even Dewey.

    Scott, is your snow-covered lawn nice and pristine, or are there kids on it? 😉


    December 24, 2009 at 12:04 am

  2. […] and Noble is apparently continuing its efforts to single-handedly remake literary […]

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