CfP: Improbable plots? Making sense of contemporary popular fiction, March 4-6, 2010
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The notion of popular fiction calls forth
several associations which highlight its distinction from "serious"
or "high" literature. It is seen as one form of popular or mass culture
that emerged with the rise of industrial capitalism, the mass media and the
mass culture industry and as therefore indubitably encompassing the process of
production, mass marketing and mass reception. The textual strategies deployed
in works of popular fiction, the generic forms, formulaic plots, stereotyped characters
and clichéd language, beg the question about their function in the social,
political and economic milieu within which they participate in powerful
ideologies and discourses as they successfully reach out to stir the hearts and
fire the desires of millions of readers.
The shifting trajectories of popularity of
individual works, or rather of authors, and the transmutation of genres
underscore their connection to the concerns of the specific historical period. From
adventure in primitive or exotic landscapes to encounters with alien,
technologised universes in outer space, from the civilisational horrors of
colonial and imperialist wars to the apocalyptic terrors of planetary ones, from
tear-jerking romance in the security of the monogamous family to erotic
transgressions of family ties and sexual norms, from the perilous mysteries of
burgeoning cities to the global sites of espionage and organized crime, from the
gothic worlds of witchcraft and sorcery to the dark fantasies of the digital
age, the imagined worlds of popular fiction seem to set themselves off from and
simultaneously point a finger at the everyday realities of its readers.
What are the driving forces of such texts
and their readers in today's globalised world? How do they relate to other
popular cultural forms, such as film, music, the emergent forms of digital entertainment?
The conference aims at bringing together interdisciplinary and comparative
perspectives that turn the spotlight on contemporary popular fiction in order to
explore its preferred genres and modes of engagement with the preoccupations
and predicaments of the current age.
Send abstracts (200-300 words) to: email@example.com