By Nick Redfern

At the level of story, a genre is a proto-typical narrative (T) shared by a group of films. This leads viewers to form hypotheses about the future course of events based on their knowledge of what normally occurs in similar narrative situations.

This process can be described using Reiter’s default logic (, which deals with reasoning where a rule generally applies but which allows for exceptions. Such rules are of the order ‘if A, and normally B, assume B,’ allowing an agent to form a hypothesis about the future in the absence of contradictory information. For example, the sexually active characters in a slasher film are normally dispatched by the killer, which can be expressed as the default rule: D = {Sexually active(X) : Killed(X) / Killed(X)}. This rule will generally apply but, due to demands for some narrative variation between films in a genre, not always.

A film genre comprises the viewers’ prior beliefs about a narrative and the set of default rules that apply to a specific type of film, with each film in a genre considered to be an extension of the proto-typical narrative (T ∪ {B}) realised in the active process of viewing.


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Nick Redfern



Published: 8 Jun, 2020

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