Mixed Genres

Critical Genre Mixing in Fantastic Storytelling

What happens when you mix the feminist fairy tale with the
heroic action film?  Set a dark fantasy story within the economically
troubled landscapes of the American inner city or suburbs?  Blend the
cultural eroticism of vampires, werewolves, and witches with the oh-so-hetero
bodily yearnings of the teen romance?  Create a post-apocalyptic zombie
narrative that pairs a “first person shooter” video-game approach,
with anti-colonial critiques from the Western genre — or or anti-capitalist
critiques from hard-boiled detective noir?  Are these simply genre
mash-ups, or do such odd story combinations foster seeds of subversion? 
This course surveys recent debates within the science fiction, fantasy, and
horror literary communities, over the practice of critical genre mixing,
including experimental movements in fantastic fiction from the 1990s onward.
Using Frow’s Genre: The New Critical Idiom as a foundation, then
analyzing tales by these movements’ key writers (including Neil Gaiman, Nalo
Hopkinson, and Kelly Link), we will discuss the historical relationship between
genre, form, and culture; the social contexts and political stakes of Western
fantastic and avant-garde narratives; and, finally, the reception/audience
dynamics of genre mixing in fantastic print literature, compared to similar
stories presented via cinema, television, comics/graphic novels, and new media


Course Requirements

  • Regular classroom participation and attendance
  • Regular participation in the discussion boards of the Laulima
    course website, where students will post a weekly response to the instructor’s questions,
    and a weekly feedback message to a peer’s response
  • Two exams, of both short-answer and essay questions
  • One 12-15 page paper on a mixed-genre fantastic text not listed
    among those assigned for the course
  • Two oral presentations, one on a text assigned for the course
    (10-15 minutes), and one on the text you choose for your paper (15-20 minutes)


An Anthology of Interstitial Writing
(2007), edited by Delia
Sherman and Theodora Goss.  Interstitial Arts Foundation.

Frow, John. Genre: The New Critical Idiom (2005).


A course reader including other essays, articles, and stories.


from television shows and whole movies, available via Netflix, Amazon, or
Hulu.  These may include visual texts such as: Once Upon a Time,
American Horror Story, Wild Wild West, Kill Bill Vol. I
, and Mirrormask.