On Genres as Ways of Being

In On Genres as Ways of Being, Paul Heilker shares his theories about genre. Heilker introduces the idea of genres as technologies, in the sense that “genres are human-created artifacts.” He goes on to state, “Like any technology, genres both assume things about and require things of their users.” Genres are usually viewed as expectations by the user. By instead looking at them as ways of being, genres are given the ability to force the users to do something or be a certain way. In this sense not only is there an expectation of the genre, but also of the user. This can be observed by examining a location such as Starbucks in the Atrium at WWU as a genre of coffee shop.

· The Starbucks line leading up to the counter is very long. To go to this genre of coffee shop, I have to make the choice whether or not the long lines are worth it.

· The Starbucks customers who wait in line at Starbucks at The Atrium are all affiliated with Western Washington University. To go to this genre of coffee shop, should be affiliated with WWU, it would be strange if I wasn’t as it is located on central campus.

· Starbucks is one of the biggest name brands on campus. To go to this genre of coffee shop, I have to prefer Starbucks over local coffee brands.

· Starbucks has a menu that that offers common espresso drinks. To go to it, I have to be familiar with different types of espresso drinks as well as the specific drinks that I like.

· Starbucks does not often have open seating readily available. To go to this genre of coffee shop, I have to be willing to either hunt down a seat or take my coffee to go.

· The Starbucks is located at an awkward location, basically shoved in the corner. To utilize this genre, I have to be willing to stand in an awkward and inconvenient location.

· Starbucks allows students to pay with their student ID. To go to this genre of coffee shop, I have to decide whether or not I want to pay using real money or conveniently swipe my card and use my dining dollars.

· The Starbucks in the Atrium line wraps around a center counter. To go to this genre of coffee chop, I have to let others weave in and out of the line in order to gain access to the counter holding various necessary items, such as coffee sleeves or sugar.

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