Call for Papers: Long Shadows of Pulp Modernism

This may be of interest to SF, SF-adjacent , and fan theory folks. I’m seeking 20-minute papers with innovative approaches to pulp fiction for a prospective panel at the American Literature Association conference in Chicago, May 26-29, 2022. See below:

Long Shadows: Pulp Heroes & Pulp Modernism’s Legacy

In 2021, writers James Patterson and Brian Sitts revamped pulp hero the Shadow into the protagonist of a dystopian futuristic novel. In many ways, this simply continued a tradition of reinvention and collective authorship going back to the character’s origins in 1930s mass-market publishing. Revisiting such adventure texts, including Doc Savage, G-8, and others, can teach us much about seriality, commercial markets, and audiences. Consumed by casual readers and continuity-minded fans alike, written by multiple authors under a single branded pseudonym, and often adapted to/from other media (radio, comics, etc.), the hero pulps prefigure today’s “creative property”-driven narratives on Disney+, Netflix, and elsewhere.

Paper suggestions that cover any pulp writers, publishers, or characters are welcomed, particularly ones incorporating any of the following concepts: 

·       Contemporary approaches to seriality and periodicals (distant reading, et al.)

·       Critical reception studies of any period of pulp printing/reprinting or adaptation

·       Science and technology in pulp texts, from hard-tech (gadgets and crime detection tools) to more intangible technologies

·       Fan studies approaches to literature, including influence of “fan curators” and the fate of pulps in the archive due to contrasting goals of public and private collectors

·       Reprinting and rebranding pulp heroes (as children’s literature, as camp, etc.)

·       Pulps’ role in developing 20th-century aesthetics 

·       Economic influences on creation and production, including property rights and ownership

·       Contextualization of pulps in 1930s theories of criminal psychology, criminality and rehabilitation, violence, race and gender.

If interested, send CV and short description of your paper to Nathaniel Williams at on or before December 20, 2021. Feel free to share this widely or email me with questions. 

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