Genre, dreadpunk, mannerpunk, the female Gothic

What constitutes a genre or subgenre and whether even the concept of genre itself has any use is much debated; it’s certainly a focal point of OGOM research, where we’re often concerned with what happens when genres collide or mate, as when Gothic meets romance as paranormal romance, or when fairy tales are reworked as urban fantasy.

Here, Jeannette Ng, whose marvelous debut novel Under a Pendulum Sky involves dark faery romance interacting with neo-Victoriana, theology, and the Brontës, discusses various aspects of genre in popular fiction: ‘Grouping Like with Like: Genre as Taxonomy‘.

Since the cyberpunk of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, there has been a proliferation of *punk subgenres, such as steampunk, clockpunk, nanopunk, and so on. Ng’s own work has been described as ‘dreadpunk’; Aja Romano describes this new subgenre in ‘What is Dreadpunk? A quick guide to a new subgenre‘.

There is also the ‘paranormal romantic historical fantasy tinged with the Victorian’ that is mannerpunk. Megen de Bruin-Molé talks about this in ‘“I had no idea dragons were so well mannered”: Politeness Gets Political in Mannerpunk‘.

One long-standing debate in the study of Gothic literature in general is over whether as distinctive strand of ‘female Gothic’ can be identified and how useful this categorisation might be. Ellen Ledoux discusses this in her article ‘Was there ever a “Female Gothic”?‘.

And there is an exhibition, ‘The art of freezing the blood’: Northanger Abbey, Frankenstein, & the Female Gothic at Chawton House till 7 September 2018.

About William the Bloody

Cat lover. 18C scholar on the dialogue and novel. Co-convenor OGOM Project
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