Genre tips

#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Varsity Novel

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 articles on a themed topic. It’s supposed to be every day except Sundays during the month of April but I did this last year, found it way to busy for the likes of me, and decided to post mine ‘about’ once a month. Yes, it’ll take me a couple of years. Sigh.

My topic, like the last two times I did the conventional approach, will be writing genres.

This genre:

Varsity Novel


a novel whose main action is set in and around the campus of a university with a focus on students rather than faculty. Sometimes, more generally called ‘academic novels’

Tipsa to z

  1. Don’t focus on faculty. This is called ‘campus novel’.
  2. The primary characters are usually students, but they can interact with faculty.
  3. This may be a satire but doesn’t have to be.
  4. Action takes place in a finite, enclosed space (the campus)
  5. Tell the story from the viewpoint of the student(s).
  6. The plot may exploit the fictional possibilities created by the closed environment.
  7. Include idiosyncratic characters that inhabit unambiguous hierarchies. They may juxtapose the cultural perspective of staff vs. the social attitudes of students.

Popular Books

  1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  2. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  3. Changing Places by David Lodge
  4. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. The Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy
  6. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Click for complete list of these 26 genres

Click for a complete list of all genres I’ve written about

More V Genres:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021. 

60 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: Genres–Varsity Novel

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Vampire Fantasy |

  2. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Academic Novels | WordDreams...

  3. I like your approach to the A-Z Challenge, Jacqui! I know better than to tackle it. I tried NaNoWriMo in November. It nearly did me in, but the work I accomplished is helping me now! I never knew there was a Varsity Novel genre. It sounds like it would be a fun genre to read. Have a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried NaNo too. I write plenty of words but that approach just didn’t work for me. I’m glad you found it helpful. I’ll be doing A to Z again this year but my own way. I’ve just about run through this series of genres!


  4. Hi Jacqui – there are lots more genre than one realises … and I’m sure tucked away in the archives there are loads that have been ‘lost’ for now … and there’ve been some interesting films about this era in life … which can resurface years later in meet ups … stay safe – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How interesting–I didn’t even know this was a subgenre. I suppose your naval academy stuff would qualify, but I haven’t written anything like that. I’ve seen a bunch of college age movies, though, and I quite like Legally Blonde. Never cared for Animal House, even though it was very popular.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t know that this was a genre, though it makes sense to me now. There are quite a few books that I can think of that would fit this profile. I read one recently (the name escapes me) of a student who plotted revenge on an old teacher who had humiliated him as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting, this seemed such a popular genre in the second half of the 20th century. To the list of those well-known in / from the UK, alongside the Waugh, Amis, and Lodge, I’d add ‘The History Man’ (1975) by Malcolm Bradbury. Broadly contemporary to Lodge’s campus novels but the humour is darker and more political.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You listed some great titles (and some I’d never even heard of, I must admit). Then there’s me… my first thought was Animal House. Wonder what that says about my taste in fiction? (Maybe I don’t want to know.)

    Great choice for a V topic, Jacqui.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the general genres–historical fiction or romance–but then again, I write in a subgenre many probably haven’t heard of–prehistoric. I’m a lot easier to find in that small group than the huge one that is historical fiction.


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