Identifying Diachronic Transformations in Popular Culture Genres: A Cultural-Materialist Approach to the History of Popular Literature Publishing

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Abstract

This paper proposes a methodology through which to examine the history of generic novels. It is an attempt to reconstruct publishing history using the internal evidence of the books themselves. A key assumption is that popular literature genres are constructed in and through the writings of individual authors who use the codes and conventions of the genre and perpetuate the genre, but who also contribute to modifying and changing the genre. The methodology is based on the view that in the area of popular culture producers of generic cultural products are themselves, at some level, already consumers of the generic cultural products. This means that in popular culture consumption is always a prerequisite of popular culture production. Northern Ireland Troubles thrillers will be used to illustrate the method. The Troubles thriller has been chosen as a generic formation through which to actualize the methodology because, based as it is on a material historical conflict, it is rich in ideological content and contested representational signs. To map out material instances of intertextuality, the method will employ analytical concepts drawn from semiotics, specifically, paradigms and syntagms, which have their origins in Saussurean linguistics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-272
Number of pages11
JournalLibrary History
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2008

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