…we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidoscopic dance of images, incapable of sleep or of continuous thought. The words, if the book be eloquent, should run thenceforward in our ears like the noise of breakers, and the story, if it be a story, repeat itself in a thousand coloured pictures to the eye.
~Robert Louis Stevenson “A Gossip on Romance”

GENRE FICTION is a term used to differentiate genre or “popular” literature from “literary” fiction. It is a term used in the book trade to differentiate “literary” fiction from works written in a specific genre in order to appeal to readers and fans already tuned in to that genre.

In this introductory course on pop genres, we’ll examine the ways in which genre is troubled by its media, defined and redefined over historical periods as well as through different social, political, and economic categories. Over the course of the semester we’ll read a variety of works in a variety of popular genres–noir, romance, western, sci fi (science fiction), YA (young adult), horror–to name a few. We’ll also be exploring a few different formats or mediums within these genres: the novel, the film, the poetry chapbook, the graphic novel. Thus, we’ll look to anatomize the conventions of popular genres (in content as well as form) and think critically about what these genres do for us as individuals or as a society.

Prepare to gloat over a few good stories.


DISCLAIMER | A NOTE ON OFFENSIVE CONTENT: Chances are good: some of you will find some of the reading materials offensive or uncomfortable.These stories are, at times, explicit about love, sex, violence, romance, gender, sexuality, and extreme geekiness. These elements have always played important if controversial roles in popular fiction; as such, they will be part of our discussion. If you feel uncomfortable reading or discussing such taboo topics, I may recommend finding another course but I will always encourage you to stick it out, try to live with a little discomfort and persevere. Regardless on how you feel about the material, please come talk to me if and when the subject of the course cause concern for you.