Monday, March 31, 2014

Call for Papers: Teaching Tainted Lit

Janet Casey (a Professor of English at Skidmore College) has recently written to the Middlebrow Network to seek additional contributions to a volume she's editing:
I am currently editing a collection entitled TEACHING TAINTED LIT: POPULAR AMERICAN FICTION AND THE PLEASURES AND PERILS OF THE CLASSROOM.  I have an interested publisher but am open to acquiring one or two more essays before submitting the final product to readers this summer.   Please get in touch with me if you have any interest:  The original CFP is as follows:

Taking as its premise the idea that popular fiction has secured a solid position in higher education classrooms, this collection seeks to explore its pedagogical implications.  Possible topics may include: unusual or insightful uses of the popular in the context of college English; historical or contemporary struggles over the teaching of popular texts; the politics and intersections of popularity and canonicity as they pertain to the classroom; anxieties and pleasures (on the parts of students and/or teachers) located in reading the popular; differences in attitudes about studying historical and contemporary popular texts; relations between teaching the popular and the perceived crisis in the humanities; teaching the American popular outside the U.S.; issues of publication and dissemination that affect teaching (e.g., working with magazines; problems associated with out-of-print materials).  Essays that focus on a particular text and its pedagogical ramifications are also welcome, especially if they put broader questions into play.  Personal/anecdotal postures invited.


  1. There's a sentence in this post that I don't quite understand. '...that popular fiction has secured a solid position in higher education classrooms'.
    I'm not sure if that's universally true. I mean, where has this phenomenon happened? In all US universities, in a handful of them? Is the situation the same in Europe? Or in Australia or Asian universities. I'd like to know what academic environment is the articled referred to.

  2. Good questions, Bona, and since I'm not Janet Casey, I'm not sure what she was thinking of.

    I did recently read a thesis about college composition classes in the US (I've never come across this kind of class in the UK, but my experience of UK universities isn't huge) by Stephanie Moody, who said that:

    The use of popular culture within composition is neither new nor exceptional. In “The History of Rhetoric and Composition as Cultural Studies,” Pauline Uchmanowicz notes that as early as 1952, composition scholars were arguing for the study of mass media and the use of audio-visual aids in writing classrooms
    (Campbell). By 1959, Ken Macrorie’s
    The Perceptive Writer, Reader, and Speaker had introduced popular culture to the textbook market, and by the late 1960s, popular music, television, books, film, and magazines were firmly entrenched in
    writing curricula.

    In an interview with Americana Ray Browne said over ten years ago that "The study of popular culture is so widespread throughout academia that one can get a Ph.D. in popular culture studies in various other disciplines."

  3. Thank you for your answer. I was thinking specifically about romance novels. You're right about popular culture, generally speaking. But whereas I can imagine pop music or the movies or even comics analyzed in universities, I have my doubts if the same happens with romance novels. At least in Europe or Continental Europe, to be more accurate.

  4. No, you're right that it's rare for people to teach romance novels at universities. But there are some (and I've listed the ones I know of and which have an internet presence here). Most of those are in the US but there was also one course taught in a German university by a postgrad and I'm hoping she'll get something published about it.