The Studies in Genre series, overseen by the venerable classicist Louise Cowen, uses the four genres Aristotle proposes in his Poetics—tragedy, comedy, epic, and lyric—as more than mere stylistic or structural classification. Cowen et al formulate a comprehensive theory of literature from “the conviction that the poetic imagination always responds in its work of poesis—of making—to fundamental movements of the soul within distinctive landscapes of human experience.” Each of Aristotle’s four genres “represents an interior angle of vision and makes possible a critical orientation that situates the reader within a given text for the crucial act of interpretation.”

The series consists of four volumes, each corresponding to one of the four genres:

  • The Terrain of Comedy
  • The Epic Cosmos
  • The Tragic Abyss
  • The Prospect of Lyric

Each contains a collection of essays from different members of Cowen’s intellectual community, based originally in the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

I am looking forward to diving into each of these over the next year or so. The Epic Cosmos is first on my list, since the Mars Hill book list is predominantly punctuated by the major western epics.