Scholars in the fields of Rhetoric, Critical Theory, and Writing Studies theorize about the role of genre in interpretation, reading, writing and invention. Over the past twenty years, genre has become a robust site of research. (See Wikipedia’s Genre Studies page and Genre page for a detailed historical perspective on Genre.)

For writers, perhaps the most important work to come out of Genre Studies is Carolyn Miller’s pioneering work on the relationship between genre and rhetoric (see Genre as Social Action). For Miller, the process of making meaning–whether one is writing, reading, or interpreting texts–occurs in a social space, a discourse community, that operates rhetorically.

Here’s how all that breaks down in practice: When communicating with one another, people hold shared histories, instincts, desires, roles personalities, attitudes and knowledge about a topic, and images.

Carl Jung, a psychologist, theorized that humans are born with a collective unconscious that they inherit from ancient ancestors. This collective unconscious hosts archetypes.

Archetypes are roles people play

  • Artist
  • Innocent
  • Sage
  • Explorer
  • Ruler
  • Caregiver
  • Everyman
  • Jester
  • Lover
  • Hero
  • Magician
  • Outlaw

Archetypes are narratives. They are common ways of perceiving and being in the world.

The archetype of the writer is that of the Creator, the Storyteller.

Resources

Carl Jung @ Wikipedia