Genre Hybrid Essay

Most writers understand that narratives are constructions that can never truly or objectively capture the totality of an event. Using the individual lexicons at our disposal, we try a posteriori to “capture” or “recreate” an experience as best we can. These writers realize that there is no definitive boundary between “fact” and “fiction” when it comes to literature. No wonder the generic distinctions of “fiction” and “nonfiction” seem ill-fitting or, indeed, fabrications themselves.

And, yet, while writers know that narratives are deliberate, linguistic constructions, oftentimes they and their readership are challenged by questions of “truthiness,” more often than not, so that their work can be pigeonholed into the appropriate genre. It is at this critical juncture that Margot Singer and Nicole Walker have entered the debate with their new anthology, Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, in order to think beyond the ethical questions of truthiness that have plagued literary writing.

Singer and Walker, both scholars of creative writing and creative writers themselves, collaborated with over two dozen established writers to present a collection of essays on the literary form and aesthetic of creative nonfiction—that relatively recent and feisty hybrid genre “commonly defined as fact-based writing that uses the techniques of fiction to bring its stories to life.” The volume is divided into three parts, with each contributor offering their own theoretical analyses or innovative interpretation of “creative nonfiction.” Emphasis is placed on the genre as a “queer hybrid”: “[t]he hybrid is transgressive, polyvalent, queer”: it “does not simply borrow elements from fiction and poetry, but bends and recombines them to make a hybrid that perpetually troubles and transcends generic bounds.”

Throughout the three parts of the anthology “the essay” is lauded as the queer literary form par excellence. Playing upon the doubleness in meaning—both in its noun (a literary form) and verbal (“to try or to attempt”)—many of the contributors champion the essay as “a site of resistance,” to quote David Lazar in “Queering the Essay”. In style and in form the essay is daring; it is, Lazar continues, “a place where things have happened rhetorically as well as formally that haven’t happened elsewhere.” In “On the EEO Genre Sheet,” Jenny Boully discusses how she uses this “site of resistance” as a pedagogic tool in the classroom. T. Clutch Fleischmann and editor Singer give their attention to individual modalities of the essay: Fleischmann writes about the “bent essay” that “Acts Up and steps outside of the lie it was supposed to stand behind,” while Singer describes the “hermit crab essay” as that which marks the “scaffolding” or “false documents” attached to the central prose. The essay is utilized by a variety of writers—scholarly and otherwise—because it is a liberating and liberated form.

In this regard, Bending Genre as a whole is seemingly random, and therefore, a wonderfully queer enterprise. Collectively, it is not entirely criticism; not entirely creative writing. Singer and Walker collate the essays to destabilize the reader’s assumptions and expectations of the text—and they do so successfully. The anthology is also queer because it raises more questions than it offers answers. One question that repeatedly comes to mind while reading the essays is one of methodology: the genre of “creative nonfiction” is an a posteriori construct, but it is interrogated as if it were an a priori category. To rephrase, the genre would seem to post-date the writing, and yet writers like Mary Cappello, in “Propositions; Provocations: Inventions,” make me wonder if writers write with a mind to genre—that “creative nonfiction,” she says, is “a vehicle” rather than an afterthought. The idea of writing in accordance with a genre seems rather limiting; however writers do indeed write with a form or even their own idiosyncratic aesthetic in mind. So, why not genre?

Perplexing and intellectually stimulating, Bending Genre and all the questions it raises continues the discussion outside of the text. What is particularly noteworthy of Singer and Walker is that their project—much in the vein of “queer” and of the notion that writing, like critical thinking, is interminable—remains alive online. They have harnessed the powers of new media to keep the discussion going, both on Facebook as well as the project’s website.



Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction
Edited by Margot Singer and Nicole Walker
Bloomsbury Academic
Paperback, 9781441123299, 226pp.
September 2013


About :Marcie Bianco

Marcie Bianco, Lesbian-feminist, public Intellectual, PhD, is a columnist and contributing writer at AfterEllen, Lambda Literary, and PolicyMic, as well as an adjunct associate professor at John Jay College at Hunter College. She has also contributed to Curve Magazine, Feministing, The Feminist Wire, Huffington Post, and The L Stop, and makes frequent appearances on Huffington Post Live. Her current projects include a scholarly manuscript about the anti-humanist, materialist ethics of English Renaissance Drama; an essay regarding the “satirical aesthetics” of HBO’s GIRLS; and a memoir about lesbian academic affairs. Tumble4Her at, and follow her on The Twitter at @MarcieBianco.

Tags: Academic, Bending genre, Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, Bloomsbury Academic, LGBT Studies, Marci Bianco, Margot Singer, Nicole Walker, nonfiction, queer, queer academic, Reviews
  • Role of the City in Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue and Hoffmann’s Mademoiselle de Scudery
  • The Wild West Rides Into The Sunset
  • Grace Virtue´s Genre, Organization Structure, and Stylistic Features
  • The Horror Genre in I am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • Western Movies Since 1960
  • Gothic Fiction Genre in Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe and Flannery O’ Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • Hip Hop Music: East Coast, West Coast, Dirty South, and Midwest Rap
  • Comparing Dark Water and The Mothman Prophecies
  • Portrayal of Women in Rap and Music Videos
  • Narrative and Genre in I Robot
  • Frankenstein and True Blood: Discovering the Gothic
  • An Evaluation of Grease
  • The Influence of Hip Hop on Today's Youth
  • Gothic Elements in Jane Eyre
  • Dear Friend
  • Music and Personality
  • Conceptions of the Soul
  • Saving Private Ryan: An Excellent Example of the War Film Genre
  • The Portrayal of the Gangster Genre in American and British Cinema in 'Goodfellas' by Martin Scorcese and 'Layer Cake' by Matthew Vaughn
  • The Effects of Classical Music on Individual
  • Tragedy and Comedy
  • Sociology: Sexual Objectification of Women in Music Videos Today
  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
  • How Terminator Two Satisfies the Science Fiction Genre
  • 1. the Three Positions Taken When Decoding an Image Are Said to Be Dominant, Negotiated and Oppositional. Choose Two Images, One from the Genre of Documentary and One from Advertising, and Explain the Process of
  • The Poetry in Harlem Renaissance
  • Bildungsroman
  • Music is Socially Meaningful
  • The Difficulty of Assessing Musical Performance
  • The Gothic Genre and What it Entails
  • Postmodernism in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Film Trailer Portfolio
  • Blade Runner
  • Music and Race
  • Viva Raperos: How Music Can Interact With Politics
  • History in the 80s
  • The Bloody Chamber
  • Mary Shelley and Flannery O’Connor: Gothic Isolationists
  • Happy Endings & True Love
  • How McCabe and Mrs Miller and Blade Runner Subvert Their Genres and Defy Audience Expectations
  • Did the Impact of the Beatles Sgt Pepper Album Help Redefine Popular Music as a Culturally Significant Art Form?
  • Lady Audleys Secret
  • The Bible Story: The Old Testament
  • The Interpretation of None the Other, Maya Angelou
  • Horror Films
  • How is tension created in The tell tale hearts and The black cat?
  • Old Testament Book Summaries
  • Cumbia in Mexican Culture
  • Evaluation of the Opening Scenes of an Episode of the X-Files
  • The Opening Scenes of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Discuss the Appeal of Horror Movies
  • Electronic Dance Music
  • Definition of Science Fiction
  • Archetypal Literary Criticism
  • The Deveopment of Pip in Dickens' Great Expectations
  • The Usual Suspects by Christopher McQuarrie
  • Some Like It Hot
  • The Changes in Police and Crime Drama Over Time
  • The Big Sleep, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Gilda's Adherence to the Noir Genre
  • Having Regulations On Reality T.V.
  • The Judge's House by Bram Stoker
  • Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon a Movie Directed by Ang Lee
  • Code Switching
  • Film Review of Lord of the Rings
  • Black Artists in Country Music
  • Narrative Devices and Structure in 'the French Lieutenant's Woman' and 'Our Country's Good'
  • Drugs and Music
  • How Does the Language in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Reflect its Gothic Genre
  • Why do Hindi films have a ‘Masala’ format?
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Works of Crime Fiction
  • Ian McEwan's Enduring Love
  • Grunge: The Musical Revolution that Changed America
  • Cameroonian Students’ Complaint Letters and Job Applications
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes, The Horror Genre
  • Fan Fiction: The Impact of a Fan-made Genre
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
  • Analysis of Halloween Film Trailer
  • Masculinity & Brokeback Mountain
  • Analysis of the Old Romanticism Genre through Izzy, Willy-Nilly
  • Comparative Analysis
  • Harlequin Enterprises Case Analysis
  • Chinese Music
  • Detective Fiction & Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Narco Corridos the History Behind the Glorified Narcos


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *