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Introduction to Popular Fiction

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kelly m

on 15 September 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to Popular Fiction

Key Words
Introduction to Popular Fiction
Elements of Popular Fiction (Assumptions)
The Reader
Plot, story, genre
Controlled and contained (?)
Simplicity over complexity
Danger, passion
Excess and exaggeration
Fantasy over experience
Sensuality
Consumer
Unthinking
Passive
Compulsive/Addict
Distracted
Sensuous
Uneducated
High Cultural Production
Commercial vs. Elite Writing
The Battle of the Books
Henry James, "The Art of Fiction"
Autonomous
Indifferent to public
Contempt for market
Creativity/originality
Discourse of Art
"Timeless literary quality"
Low Cultural Production
Conscious of mass audience
Open to the marketplace
Values conventions
Large-scale production (deadlines; sequels)
Language of industry, hard work
Craft vs. art
Success measured by public and by sales
Specialist
Active reader
Committed
Informed
Resistant
OR
The Bigger Picture
Not just about text as text
Entire apparatus of production,distribution, consumption
What is it? Who publishes it? How is it distributed? Who consumes and evaluates it?
Immensity of the field
"I see this as my book, my creation, and I didn't want that logo of corporate ownership on it" -Jonathan Franzen
"Never apologize for your reading taste" - Betty Rosenberg
A brief history
"Popular"
16th cent. legal contexts: rights for all
18th cent.: Jonathan Swift: "popular commotions"
Derogatory term: misled mass culture
Culture industry (Adorno)
What is Popular Fiction?

"Books that everyone reads" (?)
Or limited # of entertaining forms or genres?
1) History
•Reception and consumption; origins of fandom and manias
•Advertising, production, technology
•The emergence of the so-called popular genres; genre fiction and formula fiction
•How popular fiction speaks to so-called “serious” or elite fiction
“monomyth” from Rider Haggard through to Harry Potter
•The gendering of popular fiction and affective reading
•Questions of taste

2)Popular trends in contemporary fiction writing
•YA and the bildungsroman
Disease and disability
•Monstrosity
•Gender and Queer theory
•The writing of disaster and post-apocalyptic fiction
•The role of technology and social media
•Postmodern consumers

Is the definition qualitative or quantitative?
Schneider-Mayerson: a novel is “popular fiction” if its success “is measured (by the public and its publisher) as much by its sales and the devotion of fans (by its author) as opposed to timeless literary quality”

Reception Studies
Elitist assumptions
COURSE STRUCTURE
Bestsellers?

addiction
ladder
eating
mining for meaning poaching
entrancement
journey
blueprint for living
cognitive activity
Workshop: what does reading mean to you?
Folk ballads and orality
Broadsheets
Chapbooks
Murder Ballads
Lord Randall; Lamkin
A Question of Taste
-- Sheldrick-Ross
Universal themes?
Full transcript