Chris Offutt: The Definitive Taxonomy of Literary Terms
April 26, 2010 § 6 Comments
Thank goodness Chris Offutt came along and finally cleared up all of this genre confusion:
personal essay: Characterized by 51 percent or more of its sentences beginning with the personal pronoun “I”; traditional narrative strategy entails doing one thing while thinking about another.
literary essay: Akin to the personal essay, only with bigger words and more profound content intended to demonstrate that the essayist is smarter than all readers, writers, teachers, and Europeans.
lyric essay: An essay with pretty language.
nature essay: An essay written by a person claiming to have a closer relationship with the natural world than anyone else does; traditional subject matter is sex, death, and how everything was better in the past.
pop culture essay: An essay written by someone who prefers to shop or watch television.
academic essay: Alas, an unread form required for tenure.
experimental writing: The result of supreme artistic courage when a writer is willing to sacrifice structure, character, plot, insight, wisdom, social commentary, context, precedent, and punctuation.