Postmodernism is renowned for making the notion of genre seem irrelevant, outdated, a “blank parody” (Jameson 1991: 16-17). However, not everyone agrees with such a position toward genre, as Rayment explains, “To dismiss the notion of genre or to make it so general as to be almost entirely worthless […] is essentially a repudiation of literature. […]. It is […] impossible to talk about texts without a concept of the conventions that bind and divide them […]. It might also be added that it would be impossible to have discourse within texts without notions of genre” (Rayment 2015: 12-13). Moreover, as Earnshaw states, “With Postmodernism the concept genre undergoes an epistemological revolution which renders its reconceptualisation necessary” (1997: 223).
In this context, the present study is an attempt at highlighting what really happens with genres during the postmodernist period, as informed opinions related to the issue vary tremendously in angle and strength. Some critics talk about genre dissolution during Postmodernism, others talk about genres becoming modes, while others talk about genre bending, and about blending genres, styles, and tones. Meanwhile, other voices posit, “that genres today operate as open models; they are interactive ‘modes’ within variegated, plurivocal texts” (Ganeri 1997: 223). It would be incredibly hard to talk about genres in general, without trying to analyse an instance of individual genre, in order to uncover how it manifests at the level of text. Therefore, for the purpose of this study, Fantasy fiction was chosen to be analysed synchronically, in the context of postmodernist influence and its claim of genre dissolution. Since, it would be impossible to analyse every instance of genre, a corpus of works pertaining to Neil Gaiman was selected, in order to perform such an analysis. After a short overview of genre criticism, and of some individual genres, some analysis tools are introduced, relevant to the identification of genre cues. The corpus shall be analysed through the lens of structural narratology, poststructural, and postmodern criticisms, in order to identify the genre traits in the selected corpus.