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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 New Directions in Popular Fiction : Genre, Distribution, Reproduction
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This book brings together new contributions in Popular Fiction Studies, giving us a vivid sense of new directions in analysis and focus. It looks into the histories of popular genres such as the amatory novel, imperial romance, the western, Australian detective fiction, Whitechapel Gothic novels, the British spy thriller, Japanese mysteries, the 'new weird', fantasy, girl hero action novels and Quebecois science fiction. It also examines the production, reproduction and distribution of popular fiction as it carves out space for itself in transnational marketplaces and across different media entertainment systems; and it discusses the careers of popular authors and the various investments in popular fiction by readers and fans. This book will be indispensable for anyone with a serious interest in this prolific but highly distinctive literary field.' (Publication summary)


  •  Only literary material within AustLit's #scope#(/austlit/page/5961889) individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:

    Love in the Time of Finance: Eliza Haywood and the Rise of the Scenic Novel by Joe Hughes

    The Floodgates of Inkland were Opened’: Aestheticising the Whitechapel Murders by Grace Moore

    The Future of our Delicate Network of Empire’: The Riddle of the Sands and the Birth of the British Spy Thriller by Merrick Burrow

    Did Indians Read Dime Novels?: Re-Indigenising the Western at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Christine Bold

    Unno Jūza and the Uses of Science in Prewar Japanese Popular Fiction by Seth Jacobowitz

    The New Weird by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock 

     Denise Mina’s Garnethill Trilogy: Feminist Crime Fiction at the Millennium by Sabine Vanacker

    Popular Fiction in Québec: National Identity and ‘American’ Genres by Amy J. Ransom

     Glass and Game: The Speculative Girl Hero by Catherine Driscoll , Alexandra Heatwole

    Mediating Popular Fictions: From the Magic Lantern to the Cinematograph by Helen Groth

    ‘The Power of Her Pen’: Marie Corelli, Authorial Identity and Literary Value by Kirsten MacLeod

    Popular Fiction in Performance: Gaskell, Collins and Stevenson on Stage by 

    Catherine Wynne

    Adapting Ira Levin: A Case Study by Imelda Whelehan

    An Assassin Across Narratives: Reading Assassin’s Creed from Videogame to Novel by Souvik Mukherjee

    Fan Works and the Law by Aaron Schwabach

    Readers of Popular Fiction and Emotion Online by Beth Driscoll  


* Contents derived from the London,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
Palgrave Macmillan , 2016 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Fields of Popular Fiction, Ken Gelder , single work criticism

'Popular fiction is an immense but nonetheless distinctive literary field and, rather like literary fiction—to which it is often contrasted—it has its representative authors, those who seem to encapsulate everything that gives that field definition. The American writer James Patterson is a good contemporary example. Patterson has published around 100 novels since 1976: high, regular output in a popular genre (detective fiction, for example) is one measurement of this particular field’s good health. It also helps if an author sells a lot of copies, assisted by some aggressive and effective publicity and distribution; something that has in fact been a feature of the popular fictional field for some considerable time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Patterson is also an experienced and successful advertising executive ‘who knows a thing or two about branding’ (Wood 2009). Literary fiction can sometimes sell very well indeed, of course, but popular fiction can lay immediate claim to large chunks of the fictional marketplace. ‘Of all the hardcover fiction sold in the U.S. in 2013,’ an article in Vanity Fair tells us, ‘books by Patterson accounted for one out of every 26.’ This article goes on to speak of a ‘global thriller industry’ and characterises Patterson as ‘the Henry Ford of books’ (Purdum 2015). The New York Times Magazine similarly notes that since 2006 ‘one out of every 17 novels bought in the United States was written by James Patterson’; it calls him ‘James Patterson Inc.’ as if, in the world of popular fiction, author and company can seem to be one and the same thing (Mahler 2010). Literary fiction, by contrast, is rarely if ever regarded as a matter of industrial or corporate production.' (Introduction)

(p. 1-19)
Colonial Australian Detectives, Character Type and the Colonial Economy, Ken Gelder , Rachael Weaver , single work criticism

'Crime fiction started early in Australia, emerging out of the experiences of transportation and the convict system at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The first Australian (that is, locally published) novel is generally agreed to be Quintus Servinton (1832), written by Henry Savery, a convicted forger who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1825 and—convicted once more of forging financial documents—died as a prisoner in Port Arthur in 1842. Quintus Servinton is a kind of semi-autobiographical fantasy that imagines its entrepreneurial protagonist’s redemption: surviving his conviction and jail sentence in order to return to England with his beloved wife. We can note here that it does four important things in terms of the future of crime narratives in Australia. Firstly, it presents colonial Australia as a place already defined by an apparatus of policing, legal systems and governance, where ‘justice’ can at least potentially work to restore an individual’s status and liberty: for example, through convict emancipation. Secondly, it insists that the experience of incarceration and punishment is crucial to that character’s reintegration into respectable life: ‘the stains that had marked him’, we are told, ‘were removed by the discipline he had been made to endure’ (Savery, vol. 3, ch. XIII, n.p.). Thirdly, the novel ties the colonial economy to financial investment and growth on the one hand, and fraud or forgery on the other. These apparent opposites are folded together at the moment of settlement to the extent that the phrase ‘forging the colonial economy’ is a kind of potent double entendre. Prominent transported forgers included the colonial artists Thomas Whatling (transported 1791), Joseph Lycett (transported 1814), Thomas Wainewright (transported 1837) and of course Henry Savery himself. In Savery’s novel, Quintus Servinton is ‘thunderstruck’ when someone explains the conventional distinction between legitimate financial deals and forgeries: ‘You surely do not mean, Sir, it can be a forgery, to issue paper bearing the names of persons who never existed….If that be the case…many commercial men innocently issue forgeries every day of their lives’ (vol. 1, ch. III, n.p.). This takes us to the fourth point: that crime fiction in Australia is also about imposture, where characters do indeed adopt ‘the names of persons who never existed’. The mutability of colonial characters—the question of how real (authentic) or fictional (fraudulent) they might be, and the impacts this has socially and fiscally on the colonial scene—soon becomes a tremendous problem for emergent systems of policing and governance in Australia. As Janet C. Myers notes, ‘the linkage between emigration and crime forged through convict transportation continued to evoke anxieties….The atmosphere in which such anxieties were nurtured was one of rapid social mobility and shifting identities in the Antipodes’ (2009, p. 83).' (Introduction)

(p. 43-66)
Imperial Affairs : The British Empire and the Romantic Novel, 1890–1939, Hsu-Ming Teo , single work criticism

The British romantic novel became a distinct and bestselling genre during the mid-nineteenth century, when Charlotte M. Yonge’s The Heir of Redclyffe (1853) inspired other authors to write thrilling love stories published in triple-decker volumes that were sold at W.H. Smith railway bookstalls or circulated through 'Charles Mudie’s Select Library (Anderson 1974, p. 25). Women writers during this time, such as Yonge, Rhoda Broughton and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, popularised stories that featured the trials and tribulations of British heroes and heroines who fall in love, overcome various obstacles to their relationship, marry or are tragically parted by death (Anderson 1974). Most of their novels are set in Britain or, for more exotic fare, the Continent. However, from the 1890s onwards, they were joined by women writers from Britain’s colonies and dominions. This period was the zenith of British imperial power and, unsurprisingly, women writers used the colonies as exotic backdrops for their love stories. Romantic novels from the 1890s to the Second World War spread imperial fantasies of women who travelled to the colonies, hunted, worked as governesses, nurses and secretaries, managed households, ran viable plantations, fended off attacks by ‘the natives’, fell in love, married and made a place for themselves in the empire. Dreams of love and empire building bloomed in what I am calling women’s imperial romantic novels: love stories set in India, the white settler colonies and dominions, and Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.' (Publication summary)

(p. 87-110)
From Middle Earth to Westeros : Medievalism, Proliferation and Paratextuality, Kim Wilkins , single work criticism

'This chapter argues that setting is a privileged aspect of the popular fantasy genre, and it analyses setting in terms of both how texts are created and how they are circulated and enjoyed. ‘Plot driven’ and ‘character driven’ are commonplace descriptions of modern fiction, and often mark a distinction between genres of differing value. While these phrases are most usually deployed in non-academic writing such as reviews and other opinion-based works, they have appeared in recent research around reading and empathy. According to Frank Lachmann, readers of so-called literary works scored higher in empathy tests than readers of popular fiction; he suggests that this is because empathy is more readily aroused by ‘character-driven’ fiction where ‘the emotional repertoire of the reader is enlarged’ than by ‘plot-driven’ fiction (2015, p. 144). I note that Lachmann makes no attempt to elaborate on what these phrases might specifically mean, nor is there any consideration of the ‘emotional repertoire’ of, say, romance fiction, which fits his definition of character driven and yet remains the most reviled of the popular genres. While, to my mind, good fiction needs to attend to both plot and character equally well, neither of these necessary aspects of storytelling comes readily to mind as a ‘driver’ when thinking about fantasy fiction. In fact, the big engine of the genre appears to be the exposition and elaboration of the setting, from which characterisation and plots specific to the setting are then generated. Fantasy novels are, in many ways, setting driven, a feature that marks them out as unique among popular genres. Other genres where setting is an acknowledged pleasure are historical fiction (for example the work of Philippa Gregory or Diana Gabaldon) and the exotic travel memoir (for example texts set in aspirational destinations such as Provence and Tuscany); but these at least rely on settings that are real. Fantasy fiction, on the other hand, invites readers to immerse themselves in and admire an incredibly detailed world that is an invention of the author’s imagination.' (Introduction)

(p. 201-221)
Beyond the Antipodes : Australian Popular Fiction in Transnational Networks, David Carter , single work criticism

'It is possible that the transnational nature of popular fiction networks is best appreciated from the perspective of one of their more remote nodes, rather than from the largest and most powerful centres from which we habitually take our bearings. If we begin from Sydney and Melbourne, instead of New York or London, we find a set of relations that extend beyond the usual transatlantic and imperial frames that dominate understandings in the field. This chapter will trace the structure and dynamics of popular fiction’s transnational traffic by following Australian books and authors on their travels into the American marketplace, first as part of the rapid expansion of the international Anglophone market for romance fiction in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and then, as this market begins to collapse in the early twentieth century, through the stabilisation of the modern popular genre system. The Australian perspective reveals both the mobility of books, genres and authors, and the barriers to that mobility determined by the unequal relations of power governing ‘world literary space’ (Casanova 2004), at least in the Anglophone book world. We discover transnationalism not as a form of literary transcendence but as a contingent, rather messy set of economic, industrial and legal constraints working both with and against contiguities of taste and ideology.' (Introduction)

(p. 349-370)

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