We know how a Shakespeare play sounds when performed today, but what would listeners have heard within the wooden "O" of the Globe Theater in 1599? What sounds would have filled the air in early modern England, and what would these sounds have meant to people in that largely oral culture?
In this ear-opening journey into the sound-worlds of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Bruce R. Smith explores both the physical aspects of human speech (ears, lungs, tongue) and the surrounding environment (buildings, landscape, climate), as well as social and political structures. Drawing on a staggeringly wide range of evidence, he crafts a historical phenomenology of sound, from reconstructions of the "soundscapes" of city, country, and court to detailed accounts of the acoustic properties of the Globe and Blackfriars theaters and how scripts designed for the two spaces exploited sound very differently.
Critical for anyone who wants to understand the world of early modern England, Smith's pathbreaking "ecology" of voice and listening also has much to offer musicologists and acoustic ecologists.
In this first general theory for the analysis of popular literary formulas, John G. Cawelti reveals the artistry that underlies the best in formulaic literature. Cawelti discusses such seemingly diverse works as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors, and Owen Wister's The Virginian in the light of his hypotheses about the cultural function of formula literature. He describes the most important artistic characteristics of popular formula stories and the differences between this literature and that commonly labeled "high" or "serious" literature. He also defines the archetypal patterns of adventure, mystery, romance, melodrama, and fantasy, and offers a tentative account of their basis in human psychology.
When Edgar Allan Poe set down the tale of the accursed House of Usher in 1839, he also laid the foundation for a literary tradition that has assumed a lasting role in American culture. “The House of Usher” and its literary progeny have not lacked for tenants in the century and a half since: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms in the haunted houses of American fiction. Dale Bailey traces the haunted house tale from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the present, highlighting the unique significance of the house in the domestic, economic, and social ideologies of our nation. The author concludes that the haunted house has become a powerful and profoundly subversive symbol of everything that has gone nightmarishly awry in the American Dream.
Anatomy of Murder identifies and explores three basic fictional forms dealing with murder and detection—mystery, detective, and crime fiction. Mystery fiction takes place in a centered world, one whose most distinctive characteristic is motivation. Covering the forms of murder fiction, the book examines texts by Doyle, Christie, Sayers, Hammett, Chandler, Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Thomas Harris, and others.
Today the vampire is a major cultural icon and can be found in breakfast foods, comics, television, computer games, films, and books from academic studies to best-selling novels. While readers may be familiar with such figures as Dracula and Lestat, few are aware of the range of the vampire legacy that stretches from the early nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth. The essays in this volume use a humanistic viewpoint to explore the evolution and significance of the vampire in literature. Contributors examine—besides Dracula—characters such as Lord Ruthven, Carmilla Karnstein, Stephen King’s Kurt Barlow, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain, and Anne Rice’s recoded vampires. Other authors investigated include George R. R. Martin, Brian Stableford, Kim Newman, Colin Wilson, Poppy Z. Brite, and Tanith Lee.
Elements of popular culture, such as literature and films, are major industries. If scholars are to fully understand how popular culture evolves and functions, techniques for dealing with the impact of business need to be factored into the analysis.
Using the history of the cowboy story from 1820 to 1970 as an extended example, Alf H. Walle combines popular culture scholarship with marketing theory to provide a hybrid analysis. Wall examines major authors and genres of Western American literature and film; he also explores why certain respected authors were unable to significantly impact the cowboy story even though their innovations were embraced by later generations. Finally Wall provides a hybrid analysis combining business and popular culture theory in an overarching analysis.
This volume celebrates yesterday’s pulp magazines and their heroes and heroines. Readers will acquaint themselves with such famous magazine titles as The Shadow, The Black Mask, Weird Tales, and others as obscure as Scientific Detective Monthly and the sensuous Scarlet Adventuress of dim reputation. And more: Erle Stanley Gardner’s tough White Rings; Toffee the dream girl; Senorita Scorpion, a quick-trigger blond from Old Texas; Oscar Sail, protagonist of a pair of ferocious stories. And mediums, bandits, cowboys, detectives, vivacious characters, fascinating and vitally alive.
Mid-nineteenth-century American literature teems with the energy and excitement characteristic of the nation's era of expansion. It also reveals the intense anxiety and conflict of a country struggling with what it will mean, socially and culturally, to incorporate previously held Spanish territories. Empire and the Literature of Sensation is a critical anthology of some of the most popular and sensational writings published before the Civil War. It is a collection of transvestite adventures, forbidden love, class conflict, and terrifying encounters with racial "others."
Most of the accounts, although widely distributed in nineteenth-century newspapers, pamphlets, or dime store novels, have long been out of print. Reprinted here for the first time are novelettes by two superstars of the cheap fiction industry, Ned Buntline and George Lippard. Also included are selections from one of the first dime novels as well as the narratives of Leonora Siddons and Sophia Delaplain, both who claim in their autobiographical pamphlets to have cross-dressed as men and participated in the Texas rebellion and Cuban filibustering.
Originally written for entertainment and enormously popular in their day, these sensational thrillers reveal for today's audiences how the rhetoric of empire was circulated for mass consumption and how imperialism generated domestic and cultural instability during the period of the American literary renaissance.
In this powerful cultural critique, Ariel Dorfman explores the political and social implications of the smiling faces that inhabit familiar books, comics, and magazines. He reveals the ideological messages conveyed in works of popular culture such as the Donald Duck comics, the Babar children’s books, and Reader’s Digest magazine. The Empire’s Old Clothes was widely praised when it was first published in 1983. This edition, including a new preface by the author, makes a contemporary classic newly available.
Erin A. Smith Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS374.D4S65 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.087209052
In the 1920s a distinctively American detective fiction emerged from the pages of pulp magazines. The “hard-boiled” stories published in Black Mask, Dime Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, and Clues featured a new kind of hero and soon challenged the popularity of the British mysteries that held readers in thrall on both sides of the Atlantic. In Hard-Boiled Erin A. Smith examines the culture that produced and supported this form of detective story through the 1940s.
Relying on pulp magazine advertising, the memoirs of writers and publishers, Depression-era studies of adult reading habits, social and labor history, Smith offers an innovative account of how these popular stories were generated and read. She shows that although the work of pulp fiction authors like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner have become “classics” of popular culture, the hard-boiled genre was dominated by hack writers paid by the word, not self-styled artists. Pulp magazine editors and writers emphasized a gritty realism in the new genre. Unlike the highly rational and respectable British protagonists (Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, for instance), tough-talking American private eyes relied as much on their fists as their brains as they made their way through tangled plotlines.
Casting working-class readers of pulp fiction as “poachers,” Smith argues that they understood these stories as parables about Taylorism, work, and manhood; as guides to navigating consumer culture; as sites for managing anxieties about working women. Engaged in re-creating white, male privilege for the modern, heterosocial world, pulp detective fiction shaped readers into consumers by selling them what they wanted to hear – stories about manly artisan-heroes who resisted encroaching commodity culture and the female consumers who came with it. Commenting on the genre’s staying power, Smith considers contemporary detective fiction by women, minority, and gay and lesbian writers.
The prevailing assumption regarding the Victorians’ relationship to ancient Greece is that Greek knowledge constituted an exclusive discourse within elite male domains. Heretical Hellenism: Women Writers, Ancient Greece, and the Victorian Popular Imagination challenges that theory and argues that while the information women received from popular sources was fragmentary and often fostered intellectual insecurities, it was precisely the ineffability of the Greek world refracted through popular sources and reconceived through new fields of study that appealed to women writers’ imaginations.
Examining underconsidered sources such as theater history and popular journals, Shanyn Fiske uncovers the many ways that women acquired knowledge of Greek literature, history, and philosophy without formal classical training. Through discussions of women writers such as Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Jane Harrison, Heretical Hellenism demonstrates that women established the foundations of a heretical challenge to traditional humanist assumptions about the uniformity of classical knowledge and about women’s place in literary history.
Heretical Hellenism provides a historical rationale for a more expansive definition of classical knowledge and offers an interdisciplinary method for understanding the place of classics both in the nineteenth century and in our own time.
In Home Economics: Domestic Fraud in Victorian England, Rebecca Stern establishes fraud as a basic component of the Victorian popular imagination, key to its intimate, as well as corporate, systems of exchange. Although Victorian England is famous for revering the domestic realm as a sphere separate from the market and its concerns, actual households were hardly isolated havens of fiscal safety and innocence. Rather, the Victorian home was inevitably a marketplace, a site of purchase, exchange, and employment in which men and women hired or worked as servants, contracted marriages, managed children, and obtained furniture, clothing, food, and labor. Alongside the multiplication of joint-stock corporations and the rise of a credit-based economy, which dramatically increased fraud in the Victorian money market, the threat of swindling affected both actual household commerce and popular conceptions of ostensibly private, more emotive forms of exchange. Working with diverse primary material, including literature, legal cases, newspaper columns, illustrations, ballads, and pamphlets, Stern argues that the climate of fraud permeated Victorian popular ideologies about social transactions. Beyond providing a history of cases and categories of domestic deceit, Home Economics illustrates the diverse means by which Victorian culture engaged with, refuted, celebrated, represented, and consumed swindling in familial and other household relationships.
This volume contains fourteen essays by authoritative academics studying the field of mystery and detective fiction. The essays all concentrate on the first novels in established series, analyzing ways in which the opening books of the series do or do not create patterns followed in succeeding novels.
Over one hundred twenty formula romance novels are churned out every month. These romantic fantasies for women are big business and earn huge profits for the companies that publish them. Love’s $weet Return examines the phenomenon of romance fiction, focusing specifically on one of the most successful book publishers in the world, the Canadian-based Harlequin Enterprises. Margaret Jensen details the rise of the company, examines the Harlequin formula, and evaluates the growth and impact of both Harlequin and its competition. She also assesses recent shifts in the content of Harlequins, particularly as they pertain to women's changing roles in society.
Today’s mass-market romances have their precursors in late Victorian popular novels written by and for women. In Modernism and the Women’s Popular Romance Martin Hipsky scrutinizes some of the best-selling British fiction from the period 1885 to 1925, the era when romances, especially those by British women, were sold and read more widely than ever before or since.
Recent scholarship has explored the desires and anxieties addressed by both “low modern” and “high modernist” British culture in the decades straddling the turn of the twentieth century. In keeping with these new studies, Hipsky offers a nuanced portrait of an important phenomenon in the history of modern fiction. He puts popular romances by Mrs. Humphry Ward, Marie Corelli, the Baroness Orczy, Florence Barclay, Elinor Glyn, Victoria Cross, Ethel Dell, and E. M. Hull into direct relationship with the fiction of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce, and D. H. Lawrence, among other modernist greats.
This work is a composite index of the complete runs of all mystery and detective fan magazines that have been published, through 1981. Added to it are indexes of many magazines of related nature. This includes magazines that are primarily oriented to boys' book collecting, the paperbacks, and the pulp magazine hero characters, since these all have a place in the mystery and detective genre.
William Darby gives us a comprehensive and (mostly) sympathetic reading of over fifty novels and a few movies from the 1950s. He examines titles such as Mandingo, The Invisible Man, I the Jury, Catcher in the Rye, Battle Cry, The Caine Mutiny, The Revolt of Mamie Stover, The Manchurian Candidate, Hawaii, The Bramble Bush, Peyton Place, Ten North Frederick, A Stone for Danny Fisher, The Bad Seed, Not as a Stranger, The Blackboard Jungle, From Here to Eternity, and Compulsion.
In this lively, enjoyable look at the best American and British detective fiction, David Lehman investigates the mystery of mysteries: the profound satisfactions we get from evil, disorder, mayhem, and deception--that we know will be put right by the last page.
As Lehman shows, the detective story draws deeply from ancient storytelling traditions. The mystery's conventions--the locked room, the clue "hidden" in plain sight, the diabolical double, the villainous least likely subject--work on us as childhood fairy tales do; they prey upon our darkest fears, taking us to the brink of the unbearable before restoring a comforting sense of order. The myth of Oedipus, for example, contains the essential elements of a whodunit, with the twist that the murderer the detective pursues is himself.
With their wisecracking gumshoe heroes, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler fashioned an existential romance out of the detective novel. More recent writers such as Ross MacDonald, P. D. James, and Ruth Rendell have raised the genre to a new level of psychological sophistication. Yet the form evolves still, and Lehman guides us to the epistemological riddles of Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Eco, who challenge the notion of a knowable truth. Originally published in 1989, this new edition features an additional chapter on the mystery novels of the 1990s.
"A lively study of the development and varieties of the detective story since Poe, its relations with other forms high and low, and the latter-day appropriation of its techniques by such writers as Borges and Eco. . . . A thoroughly intelligent and readable book." --Richard Wilbur, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet
David Lehman is the series editor of both the The Best American Poetry, published by Scribner, and the Poets on Poetry series published by the University of Michigan Press. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow in poetry, a vice president of the National Book Critics Circle, and the author of several books of criticism and collections of poems.
The Great Depression was one of the most traumatic events of recent American history. Donald W. Whisenhunt has analyzed, and provided context for, the vast collection of poetry and song lyrics in the Hoover and Roosevelt presidential libraries to assess another aspect of American public opinion.
The poets of the era voiced their opinions on virtually every subject. They wrote about New Deal agencies, they praised and condemned Hoover and Roosevelt. They expressed their views about the Supreme Court, the third term, and the approaching war in Europe. The resulting study, arranged topically rather than chronologically, provides a unique perspective on American popular culture and American politics.
The nineteenth century was, we have been told, the “century of the poisoner,” when Britain and the United States trembled under an onslaught of unruly women who poisoned husbands with gleeful abandon. That story, however, is only half true. While British authorities did indeed round up and execute a number of impoverished women with minimal evidence and fomented media hysteria, American juries refused to convict suspected women and newspapers laughed at men who feared them.
This difference in outcome doesn’t mean that poisonous women didn’t preoccupy Americans. In the decades following Andrew Jackson’s first presidential bid, Americans buzzed over women who used poison to kill men. They produced and devoured reams of ephemeral newsprint, cheap trial transcripts, and sensational “true” pamphlets, as well as novels, plays, and poems. Female poisoners served as crucial elements in the literary manifestos of writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe to George Lippard and the cheap pamphleteer E. E. Barclay, but these characters were given a strangely positive spin, appearing as innocent victims, avenging heroes, or engaging humbugs.
The reason for this poison predilection lies in the political logic of metaphor. Nineteenth-century Britain strove to rein in democratic and populist movements by labeling popular print “poison” and its providers “poisoners,” drawing on centuries of established metaphor that negatively associated poison, women, and popular speech or writing. Jacksonian America, by contrast, was ideologically committed to the popular—although what and who counted as such was up for serious debate. The literary gadfly John Neal called on his fellow Jacksonian writers to defy British critical standards, saying, “Let us have poison.” Poisonous Muse investigates how they answered, how they deployed the figure of the female poisoner to theorize popular authorship, to validate or undermine it, and to fight over its limits, particularly its political, gendered, and racial boundaries.
Poisonous Muse tracks the progress of this debate from approximately 1820 to 1845. Uncovering forgotten writers and restoring forgotten context to well-remembered authors, it seeks to understand Jacksonian print culture from the inside out, through its own poisonous language.
The Police Procedural
George N. Dove University of Wisconsin Press, 1982 Library of Congress PR888.D4D68 1982 | Dewey Decimal 823.087609
In the late 1940s and early 1950s a new kind of detective story appeared on the scene. This was a story in which the mystery is solved by regular police detectives, usually working in teams and using ordinary police routines. This kind of narrative is customarily called the "police procedural" story. And it is the subject of this book. Though there has been numberless writers of these stories, there has never been a book of criticism before.
From the work of medieval spiritualist Margery Kempe and John Foxes’ Book of Martyrs to nineteenth century American scrapbooks, Mexican ex-votos, and Italian-American cookbooks, the essays in Popular Literacy examine acts of reading, writing, and speaking that take place at the margins of official, institutionalized literacy.
The contributors explore these noncanonical, unschooled, and unauthorized acts in order to explore how people make literacy popular by using whatever means of communication is at hand, to their own ends. The essays treat a range of topics, agents, and historical settings, and the contributors use a variety of theoretical frameworks and methods from a number of fields: ethnography, American studies, history, literary criticism, science studies, rhetoric, and writing studies.
The chapters examine particularly revealing historical moments and cultural conjunctures where instances of popular literacy take place in uneasy relation to the dominant institutions—the church, the state, the schools, the market. The contributors show that while the practices of popular literacy are never free from these influences, neither are they altogether encapsulated by them.
Taken as a whole, the essays are loosely aligned in a common project to study the ways ordinary (and extraordinary) readers, speakers, and writers use literacy to articulate identities and social aspirations, to produce alternative forms of cultural knowledge, and to cope with the asymmetries of power that regulate cultural life.
In this pioneering work Victor Neuberg has assembled a wealth of information about popular literature, from the invention of the printing press to the present. This guide, by judicious selection, gives a vivid picture of the range and variety of popular literature and its producers. Besides describing the main genres, the author has also included the social, cultural and commercial background to the production of popular literature, factors that were crucial in influencing the forms it took.
The Middle English romance has elicited throughout the centuries a curious mixture of indifference,hostile apprehension, and contempt that perhaps no other literature—except its most likely offspring, modern best-sellers—has provoked.
Meet Netley Lucas, Prince of Tricksters—royal biographer, best-selling crime writer, and gentleman crook. In the years after the Great War, Lucas becomes infamous for climbing the British social ladder by his expert trickery—his changing names and telling of tales. An impudent young playboy and a confessed confidence trickster, he finances his far-flung hedonism through fraud and false pretenses. After repeated spells in prison, Lucas transforms himself into a confessing “ex-crook,” turning his inside knowledge of the underworld into a lucrative career as freelance journalist and crime expert. But then he’s found out again—exposed and disgraced for faking an exclusive about a murder case. So he reinvents himself, taking a new name and embarking on a prolific, if short-lived, career as a royal biographer and publisher. Chased around the world by detectives and journalists after yet another sensational scandal, the gentleman crook dies as spectacularly as he lived—a washed-up alcoholic, asphyxiated in a fire of his own making.
The lives of Netley Lucas are as flamboyant as they are unlikely. In Prince of Tricksters, Matt Houlbrook picks up the threads of Lucas’s colorful lies and lives. Interweaving crime writing and court records, letters and life-writing, Houlbrook tells Lucas’s fascinating story and, in the process, provides a panoramic view of the 1920s and ’30s. In the restless times after the Great War, the gentlemanly trickster was an exemplary figure, whose tall tales and bogus biographies exposed the everyday difficulties of knowing who and what to trust. Tracing how Lucas both evoked and unsettled the world through which he moved, Houlbrook shows how he prompted a pervasive crisis of confidence that encompassed British society, culture, and politics.
Taking readers on a romp through Britain, North America, and eventually into Africa, Houlbrook confronts readers with the limits of our knowledge of the past and challenges us to think anew about what history is and how it might be made differently.
The subjects treated in this symposium have one major characteristic in common, that they have recently, or relatively recently, enjoyed high popularity among readers. Also, they have received from substantial to torrents of comment.
A person who reads a book for self-improvement rather than aesthetic pleasure is “reading up.” Reading Up is Amy Blair's engaging study of popular literary critics who promoted reading generally and specific books as vehicles for acquiring cultural competence and economic mobility. Combining methodologies from the history of the book and the history of reading, to mass-cultural studies, reader-response criticism, reception studies, and formalist literary analysis, Blair shows how such critics influenced the choices of striving readers and popularized some elite writers.
Framed by an analysis of Hamilton Wright Mabie's role promoting the concept of “reading up” during his ten-year stint as the cultivator of literary taste for the highly popular Ladies' Home Journal, Reading Up reveals how readers flocked to literary works that they would be expected to dislike. Blair shows that while readers could be led to certain books by a trusted adviser, they frequently followed their own path in interpreting them in unexpected ways.
This study of the rescue motif in popular American novels before World War I focuses on the rescue convention as part of the romantic plot of the novels. The rescue as a structured convention that controls the movement of the romantic plot appears in all types of domestic novels, gothics, dime novels, historical romances, and westerns.
The Lost Generation has held the imagination of those who succeeded them, partly because the idea that modern war could be romantic, generous, and noble died with the casualties of that war. From this remove, it seems almost perverse that Britons, Germans, and Frenchmen of every social class eagerly rushed to the fields of Flanders and to misery and death. In The Road to Armageddon Cecil Eby shows how the widely admired writers of English popular fiction and poetry contributed, at least in England, to a romantic militarism coupled with xenophobia that helped create the climate that made World War I seem almost inevitable. Between the close of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and the opening guns of 1914, the works of such widely read and admired writers as H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, J. M. Barrie, and Rupert Brooke, as well as a host of now almost forgotten contemporaries, bombarded their avid readers with strident warnings of imminent invasions and prophecies of the collapse of civilization under barbarian onslaught and internal moral collapse. Eby seems these narratives as growing from and in turn fueling a collective neurosis in which dread of coming war coexisted with an almost loving infatuation with it. The author presents a vivid panorama of a militant mileau in which warfare on a scale hitherto unimaginable was largely coaxed into being by works of literary imagination. The role of covert propaganda, concealed in seemingly harmless literary texts, is memorably illustrated.
Romance and the Erotics of Property examines contemporary popular romance from a number of different points of view, probing for codes and subtexts that sometimes exploit and sometimes contradict its surface tale of romantic attraction, frustration, longing, and fulfillment. Cohn argues that a full understanding of the contemporary romance requires an investigation of its literary and historical sources and analogues. Three principal sources are examined in the context of women's history in bourgeois society. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Erye, and Gone With the Wind demonstrate the development of romance fiction's themes, yet in all three the central love story is complicated by issues of property, the sign of male power. Jan Cohn further considers the development of the genre n the fictions of Harriet Lewis and May Agnes Fleming, prolific and popular American romance writers of the late nineteenth century who developed the role of the villain, thereby bringing into focus the sexual and economic struggles faced by the heroine. Romance and the Erotics of Property sets romance fiction against a historic and literary background, arguing that contemporary romance disguises as tales of love the subversive fantasies of female appropriation and male property and power.
Religious discourse has become alien to the secular and skeptical western societies of the twentieth century. There is real discomfort when religious discourse appears either in the popular press or in society. But even in a secular society, there is still a psychological need (one might even use the stronger word will), if not to believe, then at least to hope. Dr. Filmer states this need is met in the literature of fantasy.
This collection of essays probes the values in a variety of authors who have had in common the fact of popularity and erstwhile reputation. Why were they esteemed? Who esteemed them? And what has become of their reputations, to readers, to the critic himself? No writer here has been asked to justify the work of his subject, and reports and conclusions about this wide variety of creative writers vary, sometimes emphasizing what the critic believes to be enduring qualities in the subject, in several cases finding limitations in what that writer has to offer us today.
Everybody’s got a theory . . . or do they?
Thomas McLaughlin argues that critical theory—raising serious, sustained questions about cultural practice and ideology—is practiced not only by an academic elite but also by savvy viewers of sitcoms and TV news, by Elvis fans and Trekkies, by labor organizers and school teachers, by the average person in the street.
Like academic theorists, who are trained in a tradition of philosophical and political skepticism that challenges all orthodoxies, the vernacular theorists McLaughlin identifies display a lively and healthy alertness to contradiction and propaganda. They are not passive victims of ideology but active questioners of the belief systems that have power over their lives. Their theoretical work arises from the circumstances they confront on the job, in the family, in popular culture. And their questioning of established institutions, McLaughlin contends, is essential and healthy, for it energizes other theorists who clarify the purpose and strategies of institutions and justify the existence of cultural practices. Street Smarts and Critical Theory leads us through eye-opening explorations of social activism in the Southern Christian anti-pornography movement, fan critiques in the ‘zine scene, New Age narratives of healing and transformation, the methodical manipulations of the advertising profession, and vernacular theory in the whole-language movement. Emphasizing that theory is itself a pervasive cultural practice, McLaughlin calls on academic institutions to recognize and develop the theoretical strategies that students bring into the classroom.
“This book demystifies the idea of theory, taking it out of the hands of a priestly caste and showing it as the democratic endowment of the people.”—Daniel T. O’Hara, Temple University, author of Radical Parody: American Culture and Critical Agency after Foucault and Lionel Trilling: The Work of Liberation.
“McLaughlin takes seriously the critical and theoretical activity of everyday people and does so in a way that will empower these very populations to take seriously their own activities as theorists. . . . A manifesto that is sure to be heard by the younger generation of thinkers in American cultural studies.”—Henry Jenkins, MIT, author of Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture
Dove states that the purpose of this book is "to develop a theoretical base for a critical approach to the interpretation of the formula story." Such an approach should take into account the relationship between author and reader that determines such tacit agreements as the two axioms of formula fiction, the reader-knowledge convention, and the signals that pass between author and reader. Specifically, the chief concern of this book will be the criticism/interpretation of the mystery.
Popular American fiction has now secured a routine position in the higher education classroom despite its historic status as culturally suspect. This newfound respect and inclusion have almost certainly changed the pedagogical landscape, and Teaching Tainted Lit explores that altered terrain. If the academy has historically ignored, or even sneered at, the popular, then its new accommodation within the framework of college English is noteworthy: surely the popular introduces both pleasures and problems that did not exist when faculty exclusively taught literature from an established “high” canon. How, then, does the assumption that the popular matters affect teaching strategies, classroom climates, and both personal and institutional notions about what it means to study literature?
The essays in this collection presume that the popular is here to stay and that its instructive implications are not merely noteworthy, but richly nuanced and deeply compelling. They address a broad variety of issues concerning canonicity, literature, genre, and the classroom, as its contributors teach everything from Stephen King and Lady Gaga to nineteenth-century dime novels and the 1852 best-seller Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
It is no secret that teaching popular texts fuels controversies about the value of cultural studies, the alleged relaxation of aesthetic standards, and the possible “dumbing down” of Americans. By implicitly and explicitly addressing such contentious issues, these essays invite a broader conversation about the place of the popular not only in higher education but in the reading lives of all Americans.
Detective fiction featuring white women and people of colorsuch as Barbara Neelys Blanche White and Walter Mosleys Easy Rawlinshas become tremendously popular. Although they are considered "light reading," mysteries also hold important cultural and social "clues." Much recent scholarly work has demonstrated that race is both a cultural fictionnot a biological realityand a central organizing principle of experience. Popular writers are likely to reflect the conventions of their own historical situations.
In Traces, Codes, and Clues: Reading Race in Crime Fiction, Maureen T. Reddy explores the ways in which crime fiction manipulates cultural constructions such as race and gender to inscribe dominant cultural discourses. She notes that even those writers who appear to set out to revise outdated conventions repeatedly reproduce the genres most conservative elements. The greatest obstacle to transforming crime fiction, Reddy states, is the fact that the genre itself is deeply embedded in the discourse of white (and male) superiority. There is, therefore, an absolute necessity to break away from that discoursethrough reversal or other strategiesin order to produce work that defies, and thus helps readers to defy, the dominant ideology of race.
Nearly a hundred years after its debut in 1897, Dracula is still one of the most popular of all Gothic narratives, always in print and continually adapted for stage and screen. Paradoxically, David Glover suggests, this very success has obscured the historical conditions and authorial circumstances of the novel’s production. By way of a long overdue return to the novels, short stories, essays, journalism, and correspondence of Bram Stoker, Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals reconstructs the cultural and political world that gave birth to Dracula. To bring Stoker’s life into productive relationship with his writing, Glover offers a reading that locates the author within the changing commercial contours of the late-Victorian public sphere and in which the methods of critical biography are displaced by those of cultural studies. Glover’s efforts reveal a writer who was more wide-ranging and politically engaged than his current reputation suggests. An Irish Protestant and nationalist, Stoker nonetheless drew his political inspiration from English liberalism at a time of impending crisis, and the tradition’s contradictions and uncertainties haunt his work. At the heart of Stoker’s writing Glover exposes a preoccupation with those sciences and pseudo-sciences—from physiognomy and phrenology to eugenics and sexology—that seemed to cast doubt on the liberal faith in progress. He argues that Dracula should be read as a text torn between the stances of the colonizer and the colonized, unable to accept or reject the racialized images of backwardness that dogged debates about Irish nationhood. As it tracks the phantasmatic form given to questions of character and individuality, race and production, sexuality and gender, across the body of Stoker’s writing, Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals draws a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary transitional figure. Combining psychoanalysis and cultural theory with detailed historical research, this book will be of interest to scholars of Victorian and Irish fiction and to those concerned with cultural studies and popular culture.
This interdisciplinary study uncovers a fascination with women cross dressers in the popular literature of early modern Britain, in a wide range of texts from popular ballads and chapbook life histories to the comedies and tragedies of aristocratic literature. Dugaw demonstrates the extent to which gender and sexuality are enacted as constructs of history.
Late Imperial Russia's revolution in literacy touched nearly every aspect of daily life and culture, from social mobility and national identity to the sensibilities and projects of the country's greatest writers. Within a few decades, a ragtag assembly of semi-educated authors, publishers, and distributors supplanted an oral tradition of songs and folktales with a language of popular imagination suitable for millions of new readers of common origins eager for entertainment and information. When Russia Learned to Read tells the story of this profound transformation of culture, custom, and belief.
With a new introduction that underscores its relevance to a post-Soviet Russia, When Russia Learned to Read addresses the question of Russia's common heritage with the liberal democratic market societies of Western Europe and the United States. This prize-winning book also exposes the unsuspected complexities of a mass culture little known and less understood in the West. Jeffrey Brooks brings out the characteristically Russian aspect of the nation's popular writing as he ranges through chapbooks, detective stories, newspaper serials, and women's fiction, tracing the emergence of secular, rational, and cosmopolitan values along with newly minted notions of individual initiative and talent. He shows how crude popular tales and serials of the era find their echoes in the literary themes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other great Russian writers, as well as in the current renaissance of Russian detective stories and thrillers.
"Real mystery fans will enjoy this survey of nearly 300 female sleuths
in 100 years of British and U.S. fiction." -- Feminist Bookstore News
This new edition adds sixty new female private eyes to the roster and
includes an afterword that assesses the current state of the genre's new
and old novels. A comprehensive bibliography and a character list update
the field through mid-1994.
"A highly intelligent analysis." -- Ms.
"Well-researched and well-written. . . . Traces the evolution of
sexist boundaries in popular detective fiction from a feminist viewpoint
and documents the parallels in social history and the women's rights movement."
-- Ronald C. Miller, The Armchair Detective
"Identifies dozens of good novels whose titles are not well known,
its promise of good reading extending well beyond its own covers."
-- Jane Bakerman, Belles Lettres
Partly a roman à clef, partly a paradic "novel-within-a-novel," Writing for Love and Money is perhaps best described as a comic odyssey into the world of the bestseller, a tour guide for writing a blockbuster. Playfully weaving literary puns and allusions into an enthralling narrative, Perutz allows Kate, assisted by a host of "real" and fictional authors, to learn page by page the ingredients of popular fiction. While some critics may argue about the genre—is the book a novel? a memoir? an expose?—Perutz's readers will agree that Writing for Love and Money is one of the funniest nonnovels, nonmemoirs, nonexposes they've read.
The pulp magazines dealt in fiction that was, by reason of the audience and the medium, heightened beyond normal experience. The drama was intense, the colors vivid, and the pace exhausting. The characters moving through these prose dreams were heightened, too. Most were cast in a quasi-heroic mold and moved on elevated planes of accomplishment.
This book and its companion volumes are concerned with the slow shaping of many literary conventions over many decades. This volume begins the study with the dime novels and several early series characters who influenced the direction of pulp fiction at its source.