I have a couple ideas for low-stakes assignments for the Genre Awareness unit in 1101.
First, I’ve found that students most readily know genre as a term related to music/film, and therefore I think it would be useful to start there.
1. In class, play a short clip from a recent horror/thriller film (Midsommar/Us).
Discuss w/ class: What makes this a horror film? Are there any things that, if you took them away, would change the genre?
Writing Prompt: Imagine being asked to rewrite this as a romantic comedy. What would change? What would you have to add to make it romantic and funny?
2. Play clip from Seinfeld’s “The Subway” where riders strain to hear an indecipherable announcement.
Class Discussion: What are the conventions of a subway announcement?
Writing: What other ways can you find that information? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these other different genres/modes? What is unique about subway announcements versus all other genres/modes?
Concepts to tie in (for both): How do considerations of audience/purpose/constraints/genre conventions impact the content and form and mode of the text? Can we write out a procedure for identifying the conventions of a genre given some exemplar?
Kieran, I really like your ideas about introducing a genre, and then having students change aspects of it to fit a new genre (horror film to romantic movie). It is easy to understand and fun and challenging for them to try to do.
I think I might do something similar for the Genre Awareness assignment for my students in English 1101.
Low Stakes Assignment for English 1101 – Genre Awareness
I would start by discussing the concepts of audience, purpose, constraints, and genre with the students, and ask them what they thought each one meant and to give an example of each.
I might start with films and characters, and give various examples and ask them to identify which genre they belonged to. For example, Superman – Man of Steel (hero, action film), Don Michael Corleone – The Godfather (protagonist on a journey of discovery – drama), Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark (hero, action/adventure), Loki – Thor: 1st Film (Villain – Action film) Sam Carmichael – Mamma Mia (leading man – romantic comedy/musical), Johnny English – film of the same name (Fool/bumbling spy – Comedy).
Then I might ask the students to list the qualities of each character in one column, and then the qualities of that genre in a corresponding column. Then I might ask the students to change one aspect of the story in each film to change the genre and then label that new genre. For example, action -> comedy would entail changing the character’s behavior in a particular scene (and they would have to watch the scene or present the scene in class using a short video clip of the film and then say how it would be changed to show the change in genre.
This assignment would enable them to use film, its various genres, and to experiment with them creatively and to talk about it and to write about it, as well.