318 - Popular Literature
From Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, forms of popular literature have existed alongside more “literary” forms of narrative. In this course students will focus on the distinguishing thematic, structural, and formal distinctions between popular and literary fiction (and in some cases drama and poetry) with an awareness of the historical trends that produced this distinction (the dime novel). The course may focus on popular forms either within broader genres (such as fiction, drama, or poetry) or could be organized thematically and use several of these larger genres. Some sub-genres may include, for example, detective fiction, gothic and horror, the western, romance, etc. Analysis of popular treatment of certain themes and ideas will give students a lens through which to understand how important social, political, and cultural issues enter into the popular imagination, and can in some cases become part of ideological contestation through popular literary discourse.