Popular Reading

Low to Middling Genres, 1890–1945


Week 1

Thursday, September 6.


Week 2

Monday, September 10.

Background on genre and popular reading.
Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose, eds., A Companion to the History of the Book, 291–93, 341–50, 368–73.
Ken Gelder, Popular Fiction, 11–13, 40–46, 55–60, 64–67.
John Frow, Genre, 6–17, 124–31.
Marina MacKay, The Cambridge Introduction to the Novel, 135–43.
Ungraded “fieldwork” exercise.


Thursday, September 13.

Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four (1890).
Exercise: identify four signs of the novel’s genre and analyze their individual functions.

Week 3

Monday, September 17.

Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891).
Online in Google scan of vol. 2 of The Strand, 61–75.
In class: What is a magazine? The Strand as a popular reading medium.
See also: Google scan of Strand, vol. 1.

Thursday, September 20.

Dorothy Sayers, Whose Body? (1923).
In class: is it literary?

Week 4

Monday, September 24.

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939).
In class: violence.

Thursday, September 27.

Chandler, continued.
Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder.” Text online.
Franco Moretti, “The Slaughterhouse of Literature,” MLQ 61, no. 1 (March 2000): 207–227. Online via Rutgers Library.
Exercise due: Investigate a device in Doyle.

Love story / Romance

Week 5

Monday, October 1.

Elinor Glyn, Three Weeks (1907).
Library reserve or online scan of 1909 U.S. edition.
Focus on chaps. 1–13.
Romance, roman, novel: what is a “genre” love story?

Thursday, October 4.

Glyn, continued.
Janice Radway, Reading the Romance, 19–21, 86–99, 209–13 (required); 25–33, 131–35, 213–22 (optional). Excerpts online on Sakai.
Begin reading E.M. Hull, The Sheik (1919). Pine Street reprint or Google Scan of 1921 edition or electronic text on Sakai.

Week 6

Monday, October 8.

Hull, The Sheik.
Focus on chaps. 1–6.
Orientalism from below?

Thursday, October 11.

Hull, The Sheik, concluded.
Begin Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca.
Optional: Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism. Short excerpt on Sakai.
Exercise due: romance reception research.

Week 7

Monday, October 15.

Rebecca, continued.

First Interlude: Poetry Genres and the Great War

(Week 7, continued)

Thursday, October 18.

What can poetic genres tell us about fictional genres?
Poetry selections available on Sakai:
Charles T. Dazey, “At Carrizal” (1916).
Lurana Sheldon, “The Naturalized Alien” (1916).
Alan Seeger, “I have a rendezvous with Death” (1916).
John McRae, “In Flanders Fields” (1916).
Florence Guertin Tuttle, “If. A Mother to Her Daughter” (1917).
Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn, “Peace Hath Her Belgiums” (1917).
Rupert Brooke, “The Soldier” (1915).
D.H. Lawrence, “Service of All the Dead” (1915).
Siegfried Sassoon, “‘They’” (1917).
Sassoon, “In the Pink” (1917).
Isaac Rosenberg, “‘Ah, Koelue…’” (1917).
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, “Rupert Brooke” (1917).
Walter de la Mare, “The Remonstrance” (1917).
Herbert Asquith, “The Volunteer” (1917).
Claude McKay, “If We Must Die” (1919).

Week 8

Monday, October 22. Class canceled.

Begin reading Wells and Hussain.

Scientific Romance / Weird Fiction / SF

Thursday, October 25.

Poetry concluded; scientific utopia and dystopia.
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895).
Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain, “Sultana’s Dream” (1905).
Bring to class: poetry selections, Hussain.

Week 9

Monday, October 29. Class canceled by hurricane.

Exercise due: generic comparison.

Thursday, November 1. Class cancelled by hurricane.

Continue reading: Wells, Amazing, Lovecraft.

Week 10

Monday, November 5.

Scientific romance to scientifiction.
Wells, Time Machine.
Amazing no. 1: All paratexts (ads, table of contents, etc.); Hugo Gernsback, “A New Kind of Magazine.”
Introduced in class: H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu.”
Not discussed in class: G. Peyton Wertenbaker, “The Man from the Atom,” 2 pts. (in Amazing no. 1 and Amazing no. 2).
Bring to class: Wells, Amazing materials, Lovecraft.

(Wednesday, November 7.)

Exercise due: identify research topic. Due on Sakai at noon.
See the explanation of the exercise in the research paper assignment.

Thursday, November 8.

Meet in Alexander Library 413.
Library session with Humanities Librarian Dr. Kevin Mulcahy.
Research workshop: finding secondary sources, then finding primary sources.

Week 11

Monday, November 12.

Weird fiction. Whither science?
Lovecraft, continued.
Edmund Wilson, “Tales of the Marvellous and the Ridiculous.” Reading on Sakai.
Optional: C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet.

Second Interlude: Realisms

(Week 11 continued)

Thursday, November 15.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil (1925).
What are the generic protocols of Maugham’s realism?

Week 12

Monday, November 19.

Social problem fiction. Questions of documentation and commitment.
Maugham, Painted Veil, continued.
John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle (1936).
Exercise due: annotated research paper bibliography. See the explanation of the exercise in the research paper assignment.

Tuesday, November 20 (Thursday classes meet today).

Steinbeck, continued.
Steinbeck’s California journalism and this novel.
From this point on, make time to complete your additional reading for the research presentation and paper.

(Thursday, November 22. Thanksgiving recess.)


Week 13

Monday, November 26.

Capability, confinement, nation.
Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915).
Geoffrey Household, Rogue Male (1939).

Thursday, November 29.

Household, Rogue Male.
James Cain, Double Indemnity (1943).
Retrospective: genres in relation.

Week 14

Monday, December 3.

Research presentations.

Thursday, December 6.

Research presentations, continued.

Week 15

Monday, December 10.

Research presentations, concluded.

Thursday, December 13. Reading day.

No class.

Tuesday, December 18, 3 p.m.

Research papers due. Turn in via Sakai Drop Box or drop off in person to my office, Murray 031.