Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Reading Popular Literature

 Course Objectives 

  • Understand the term popular, literary and high literatures. Trace the history of these terms.
  • Study critical theories about popular literature and place them alongside with larger understandings of literature studies
  • Understand Genre theory as a distinct way to study Popular Literature and identify various genres of Popular Literature
  • Interpret and appreciate various genres such as Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime Fiction, and Romantic Fiction.
  • Understand both the role of Popular Literature as reflection and sometimes, intervention into contemporary reality.
  • Critically read and analyze specific texts to understand the issues at hand.
  • Discuss the subversive trends in popular literature alongside with understandings its dependence on dominant cultures

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Both lecture based and interactive class discussions on every concept.
  • Readings are a must-both theoretical and fiction based
  • Use of articles, news clippings, videos, etc to further explain concepts i.e. a practical understanding regarding the concept.
  • Students are made to identify the various forms of writing and analyze the writings in class.
  • Evaluations are conducted throughout the semester to ensure that the students’ outcomes are appraised. 



 Course Outline 

S. No Topic Hours
 1. Introduction to the concept, its genealogy and history
o   What is popular literature?
o   The debate between popular and high cultures
o   Some key early theories on the distinction
o   Cultural studies and the recovery of ‘popular”
o   What is genre theory?
o   Genre fiction vs Literary fiction
 12 hrs
 2. Speculative Fiction
o   Meaning of term and history
o   Types: Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror etc
o   Fantasy: meaning, history, types, debates, texts (Lewis Caroll, JRR Tolkien, L Frank Baum, Ursula Le Guin)
o   Science Fiction: technology and science in literature, origins, texts (Robert Heinlien, Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick)
o   Horror: growth of horror from gothic to contemporary (Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stroker, MR James, Stephen King)
o   Writers like Neil Gaiman, Angela Carter etc as subverting trends
16 hrs
3. Crime Fiction    
o   Origins and types-detective, spy, legal etc
o   Socio political
o   British Crime Fiction Arthur Conan DoyleThe Hound of the Baskervilles, Agatha Christie etc
o   American Crime Raymond Chandler – The Long Goodbye, Ian Fleming, James M Cain, Sarah Peretsky
o   Contemporary Crime: Swedish writers
o   Noir Fictions
12 hrs
4. Romantic Fiction
o   Gothic and Romantic Fiction
o   Sub Genres- including chick lit, historical romance, erotic romance, contemporary etc
o   Books (and excerpts)- Mills and Boons series, Georgette Heyer, Nora Roberts, Barbara Cartland, Helen Fielding, Stephanie Meyer etc
o   Feminist Re-Readings of the Romantic Genre
8 hrs
5. Fan Fiction as Literature
o   Definition
o   Communities
o   Texts
o   Blogging as Fan Fiction
4 hrs