While we’re all familiar with standard literary genres; it’s also a great idea to educate ourselves on the subtleties that lie within them. We not only become aware of a whole new canon of literature, we’re further increasing our possibility of being inspired and maybe even creating a genre of our very own! So here are five less common genres and sub-genres, both old and new for you to explore.
Eco-Gothic represents a modern branch of its parent genre; which began in the eighteenth century. With themes of mortality, horror and romance; these tales often took place in ‘exotic’ European settings, with nature playing an important, albeit secondary role. It’s this natural element that the emerging genre concerns itself with; using the Gothic as a mouthpiece to explore our current environmental anxieties.
It differs slightly from Speculative fiction in the sense that it explores current fears and desires concerning the planet rather than what may happen in the future. To learn more about it, you could check out Ecogothic, a collection of essays edited by Andrew Smith and William Hughes; or if you have less time you can read this online review.
The Gaslamp genre is interestingly more of a sub-sub genre, or in other words the daughter of Historical fantasy and the granddaughter of Speculative fiction. It often makes use of the Victorian and Edwardian eras; and has many things in common with Steampunk, with the exception that it focuses on magic rather than technology. It’s also more flexible when it comes to time periods and their cultural and social aspects; employing Gothic elements and even exploring alternative histories. To discover more, why not check out the very first Gaslamp book written by the author who first coined the term?
3. Amish Romance
Although at first this seems like a dichotomy; Amish Romance is a lesser known sub-genre of Christian fiction. Extremely popular in the United States and beyond, it holds a mixed reception amongst the Amish community themselves, both in terms of content and the way in which their society and religious beliefs are presented.
Intimacy is generally avoided and when it does appear, is decidedly chase and often the result of an ‘act of God’ where a horse-drawn cart flips over and the two love interests are forced together physically in some way—with divine approval of course. If you wish to take a closer look at some of these ‘bonnet rippers’, you can do so here.
4. Feminist Science Fiction
At first glance, this concept appears thoroughly modern; but its roots go back much further, with writers as early as the seventeenth century exploring themes that define this sub-genre. Science fiction in itself challenges us to question who we are and what it means to be human, so it comes as no surprise that on a smaller scale it has provided women a means of exploring the subject of gender and equality.
It has also given women the ‘space’ to use their imagination in terms of examining the societal structures we live in and exploring other possibilities. Popular works include Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson and The Snow Queen by Joan. D. Vine.
Fantastique is a French genre that is often overlooked by anglophone Fantasy fiction and Magic realism. While it includes many similarities, it allows for the inclusion of fantastical or supernatural elements without being wholly accepting of them; making Fantastique something rather unique.
With origins dating as far back as the Middle Ages it shares some similarities with the Italian literary and cinematic genre Giallo; which favours the criminal and psychological. In the face of something traumatic whether supernatural or criminal, both genres explore the space that subsequently emerges; in which fear and disbelief reign and one’s sanity is called into question. You can explore Fantastique further in this article from the BFI’s website.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and if you’d like me to research lesser known genres to write about in the future; feel free to note down your suggestions in the comments section below!
Take care and until next time^^,