Epic and Genre: Beyond the Boundaries of Media

Luke Arnott
  • Comparative Literature, December 2016, Duke University Press
  • DOI: 10.1215/00104124-3698457

Epic and Genre

What is it about?

"Epic and Genre" presents a new theory of the epic as a narrative genre. It explains why epics, from "Gilgamesh" and the "Aeneid" to "The Lord of the Rings" and "Mass Effect," continue to appear in different cultures and times. The article includes a framework for defining and analyzing epics that can be used for narratives in any medium.

Why is it important?

Many popular narratives, often in digital media, are increasingly described as "epic." This article presents a historically-grounded and trans-media understanding of the epic that brings depth to aesthetic criticism of complex popular media. This is especially important because these narratives rely on their audience being familiar with a number of complementary media forms.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Luke Arnott