Pulp Culture (T7060)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

Popular literature is often overlooked in favour of what is considered more highbrow literary culture, yet an understanding of the cultural history of a nation necessitates an examination of what was popular as well as what became canonical. This module enables an examination of a variety of mass produced popular American literatures from the 18/19th centuries through to the 20th, many of which were often the bestsellers and most talked about books in their day. Each week we will be looking critically and analytically at a variety of popular literatures, from pulps such as early magazines and comics, dime novels, Westerns and juvenile or sentimental literature, to "hardboiled" crime fiction, and other bestsellers of the 20th century.

The module will look at the relationship between "high" and "low" fiction as well as examining how the mode of production affected the literature produced at the time. We will look at both the writing styles that thereby developed as well as the reception and cultural circulation of the texts. Included in this will be a consideration of the way that issues of gender, class and race in America affected the popular narratives and how we can understand the society that they emerged from more fully as a result.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 24 hours of contact time and 126 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.