University of North Carolina at Asheville
Subject Listing - Literature
Advisor: Dr. Merritt Moseley
Thursday, Oral Session 1, Presentation 1, Owen Hall 229
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN "LITERARY" AND "POPULAR" NOVELS IN CONTEMPORARY BRITISH LITERATURE
This undergraduate research project examines the perceived differences between "popular" and "literary" fiction, focusing specifically on works by contemporary British authors. The project addresses several key issues related to this topic including the effects of literary prize culture on the production and consumption of contemporary texts (in particular the awarding of the Booker Prize), a priori marginalization of "genre" fiction by both reviewers and academics, and the growing irrelevance of the concept of canonicity in textual analysis. The study utilizes cultural studies and critical theory as well as drawing on interviews conducted in England last summer with three contemporary British authors whose careers grant them uniquely privileged perspectives on the questions the topic raises: David Lodge, a successful novelist (shortlisted twice for the Booker Prize) and former academic who's been on the Booker judging panel, Angela Lambert, whose critical reputation was badly damaged after receiving an award for "Best Romance Novel" for her book Kiss and Kin, and Nick Hornby, an international best selling novelist whose work is considered by many reviewers and academics to be "popular" rather than "literary." Thorough examination of critical thought on these and other contemporary authors leads to a critical stance less constrictive than that which insists upon the divide between "popular" and "literary" works, allowing for a broader appreciation of contemporary fiction which isn't contingent on potentially misleading a priori value judgments.
Advisor: Dr. Merritt Moseley, Professor, Department of Literature and Language, University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville, NC