Cover image for Scorned literature : essays on the history and criticism of popular mass-produced fiction in America
Scorned literature : essays on the history and criticism of popular mass-produced fiction in America
Schurman, Lydia Cushman.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xviii, 245 pages ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.P63 S36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Many works now studied by contemporary literary scholars were scorned by critics when they were first published. So too, there is a large body of popular American fiction that is only now beginning to receive critical attention. This book examines the growing respect given to popular mass-produced American fiction, though such works were initially rejected by cultural watchguards such as librarians and educators. Expert contributors examine such scorned literature as dime novels, comic books, juvenile fiction, romance novels, and pulp magazines from the 1830s to the 1950s. The chapters illuminate the value of these works and analyze the cultural forces that sought to censor them.

Author Notes

LYDIA CUSHMAN SCHURMAN is Professor Emerita of English at Northern Virginia Community College and has published widely on nineteenth-century popular fiction.

DEIDRE JOHNSON is Associate Professor of English at West Chester University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in children's literature. She has published extensively on Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer syndicate and is associate editor of Dime Novel Round-Up .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

An attack on elitist taste--for its rejection of mass publication--this anthology of criticism covers two centuries of early paperbacks, comics, pulp magazines, juvenile fiction, and popular romance. The editors cite as reasons for their "scorn" the lack of attention paid by critics to these genres, the mores of the page-turning reader, and the blanket disapproval by highbrows. An essay on pulps by Erin Smith deals with detective fiction writers whose works eventually entertained higher-browed purveyors of Hammett and Chandler. Left out, but also applicable in this connection, are authors of paperback originals of the 1950s, for example David Goodis and Jim Thompson, whose work inspired filmmakers Francois Truffaut and Stephen Frears. For the most part these essays deal with less-familiar writers, so the book is a valuable addition to the literature on the genres addressed. Recommended as background for the present volume is James Hart's The Popular Book: A History of America's Literary Taste (1950; reprinted, 1976), which suggested that "fastidiousness of language" turns away the average reader. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students; general readers. A. Hirsh emeritus, Central Connecticut State University

Table of Contents

Madeleine B. SternJesse BerrettSarah S.G. FrantzJanet DeanDonald PalumboM. Paul HolsingerDawn Fisk ThomsenLydia Cushman SchurmanErin A. SmithDeidre JohnsonAmy Kiste NybergKathleen ChamberlainAlison M. Scott
Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Chapter 1 Gresham's Law of Culture: The Case of Mickey Spillane and Postwar Americap. 1
Chapter 2 "Expressing" Herself: The Romance Novel and the Feminine Will to Powerp. 17
Chapter 3 Calamities of Convention in a Dime Novel Westernp. 37
Chapter 4 Marvel's Tomb of Dracula: Case Study in a Scorned Mediump. 51
Chapter 5 "Blood in the Sky": The World War II-Era Boys Series of R. Sidney Bowenp. 69
Chapter 6 "It is a pity it is no better": The Story Paper and Its Critics in Nineteenth-Century Americap. 83
Chapter 7 The Effect of Nineteenth-Century "Libraries" on the American Book Tradep. 97
Chapter 8 "The ragtag and bobtail of the fiction parade": Pulp Magazines and the Literary Marketplacep. 123
Chapter 9 From Abbott to Animorphs, from Godly Books to Goosebumps: The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Modern Seriesp. 147
Chapter 10 Poisoning Children's Culture: Comics and Their Criticsp. 167
Chapter 11 "Wise Censorship": Cultural Authority and the Scorning of Juvenile Series Books, 1890-1940p. 187
Chapter 12 Romance in the Stacks; or, Popular Romance Fiction Imperiledp. 213
Selected Bibliographyp. 225
Indexp. 233
About the Editors and Contributorsp. 243