The Popular and Genre Fiction Research Network is a space for researchers of all levels to collaborate and learn from each other. Our focus is on anything that could be deemed a ‘popular’ or ‘genre’ work, from all mediums and disciplines within the humanities. In the summer of 2022 we will be hosting events ranging from methodological workshops to talks from external speakers, and are keen to spotlight the work of researchers within our remit.

If you would like to get in touch with us to suggest an event, or pitch a blog post, you can contact our network leader Dr Amy Burge at a.burge@bham.ac.uk, or get in touch with our network assistant Georgie Rowe at gxr697@student.bham.ac.uk.

‘What is it, exactly, about genre that is unliterary—and what is it in “the literary” that resists genre? The debate goes round and round, magnetic and circular—a lover’s quarrel among literati.’ —Joshua Rothman, ‘A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate’, The New Yorker

‘[…] once the idea of English Literature is denuded of value judgements and canonical discussion, a wholly new entity appears.’ —Clive Bloom, Bestsellers: Popular Fiction Since 1900

No doubt, popular fiction is an increasingly important field of research. In the last thirty years in particular we have seen a huge upsurge in the amount of critical studies devoted to such major areas as sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, which were previously comparatively overlooked within literary criticism. Popular Fiction is now increasingly present in universities with an array of undergraduate modules at Birmingham and elsewhere focused on genre and popular fiction.

We are seeing more and more interrogations into the complexities and significance of mass culture and literature and into what exactly even constitutes ‘Popular Literature’. In the last few years alone, Joshua Rothman has instigated a vibrant and impassioned discussion on so-called ‘genrefication’, whilst Ken Gelder has published New Directions in Popular Fiction and Bernice M. Murphy has brought out Key Concepts in Contemporary Popular Fiction. Described by David Glover and Scott McCracken as a ‘deceptively simple’ subject of study, Popular Fiction—with its intriguing and symbiotic relationship to popular culture more widely—is something worth talking about.