Event Title

French Pulp, Or The Risks Of Genre Negotiation: Popular Literature In The Marketplace.

Location

SU 124

Start Date

19-4-2019 11:20 AM

Department

English

Session

Session 4

Description

French popular literature has been growing over the past five years, especially through the reemergence of classic pulp fictions. As French pulps have been resurfacing under paper and electronic versions, this project juxtaposes the renewal of French pulp fiction with the appearance and evanescence of a French magazine, Pulp, and was carried out to investigate its fleeting success on the literary market. The analysis under study is encapsulated in an overarching interrogation, namely what “pulp” means today and why its reemergence matters. Inscribed in a material culture approach, this analysis was conducted by laying out the historical evolution of French popular literature from its inception in 1848 to today, as to understand its fundamentals, and see what elements of the pulps were missing in Pulp. A comparison between three publishing houses of pulps and the one of Pulp gathers data to explain the literary and economic failure of the latter. Finally, a literary study of how Pulp was structured, and how French pulps generally are interrogates the notion of “pulp” and asks to what extent the magazine and the renewed genre deserve to be called as such. Either under the artsy pulp magazine up to 1945, or via the paperbacks of the 1950s and after, research shows that pulps were traditionally not meant to have high-quality stories, but fictions that were entertaining enough to be read by the populace. Through the publishing of Pulp the reemergence of the pulp genre happened yet with a negotiation of it: although the magazine had a vintage touch with illustrations, it dismissed the fictive part of pulps. Pulp was fraught with images of current topics that were meant to be entertaining, so that readers would not just see them but engage themselves in a critical reading of them. While pulps are inspired by the society but written as fictions for the people, Pulp aimed at being popular through images that would operate as literary, and speak to the people by having them work the distinction between reality and fiction, arguing that society and its modern representations are often misleading. Nevertheless, its failure is explained by its lack of immediate content understanding, of distraction and levity, and of redundant yet current topics of a time, all of these principles pertaining to the understanding of French pulps and their durability. Moreover, while French publishing houses aim at building a canon of popular literature and maintaining this literature popular by having their readers give their thoughts about the published pulps for example, they also aspire to expand the popular characteristic on the international market. Finally, what worked to the detriment of Pulp was the digitization of pulps. Essentially, the significance of “pulp” is connected to its modern importance. It matters to make yesterday’s popular literature perennial, as its heritage is framed in French culture and its topics are enmeshed in today’s society. It equally matters to make the genre didactic, constructive and analytical, yet as Pulp’s demise shows, it is clear that this genre cannot be negotiated.

Comments

Timothy Scherman is the faculty sponsor for this project.

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Apr 19th, 11:20 AM

French Pulp, Or The Risks Of Genre Negotiation: Popular Literature In The Marketplace.

SU 124

French popular literature has been growing over the past five years, especially through the reemergence of classic pulp fictions. As French pulps have been resurfacing under paper and electronic versions, this project juxtaposes the renewal of French pulp fiction with the appearance and evanescence of a French magazine, Pulp, and was carried out to investigate its fleeting success on the literary market. The analysis under study is encapsulated in an overarching interrogation, namely what “pulp” means today and why its reemergence matters. Inscribed in a material culture approach, this analysis was conducted by laying out the historical evolution of French popular literature from its inception in 1848 to today, as to understand its fundamentals, and see what elements of the pulps were missing in Pulp. A comparison between three publishing houses of pulps and the one of Pulp gathers data to explain the literary and economic failure of the latter. Finally, a literary study of how Pulp was structured, and how French pulps generally are interrogates the notion of “pulp” and asks to what extent the magazine and the renewed genre deserve to be called as such. Either under the artsy pulp magazine up to 1945, or via the paperbacks of the 1950s and after, research shows that pulps were traditionally not meant to have high-quality stories, but fictions that were entertaining enough to be read by the populace. Through the publishing of Pulp the reemergence of the pulp genre happened yet with a negotiation of it: although the magazine had a vintage touch with illustrations, it dismissed the fictive part of pulps. Pulp was fraught with images of current topics that were meant to be entertaining, so that readers would not just see them but engage themselves in a critical reading of them. While pulps are inspired by the society but written as fictions for the people, Pulp aimed at being popular through images that would operate as literary, and speak to the people by having them work the distinction between reality and fiction, arguing that society and its modern representations are often misleading. Nevertheless, its failure is explained by its lack of immediate content understanding, of distraction and levity, and of redundant yet current topics of a time, all of these principles pertaining to the understanding of French pulps and their durability. Moreover, while French publishing houses aim at building a canon of popular literature and maintaining this literature popular by having their readers give their thoughts about the published pulps for example, they also aspire to expand the popular characteristic on the international market. Finally, what worked to the detriment of Pulp was the digitization of pulps. Essentially, the significance of “pulp” is connected to its modern importance. It matters to make yesterday’s popular literature perennial, as its heritage is framed in French culture and its topics are enmeshed in today’s society. It equally matters to make the genre didactic, constructive and analytical, yet as Pulp’s demise shows, it is clear that this genre cannot be negotiated.