Pulp Studies

Primary tabs

Call for papers: 

Pulp magazines were a series of mostly English-language, predominantly American, magazines printed on rough pulpwood paper. They were often illustrated with highly stylized, full-page cover art and numerous line art illustrations of the fictional content. They were sold for modest sums, and were instrumental in creating many of the genres we know today, including western and adventure, detective, science fiction, fantasy, sword and sorcery, horror, romance, and sports fiction. The first pulp Argosy, began life as the children’s magazine The Golden Argosy, dated Dec 2, 1882 and the last of the “original” pulps was Ranch Romances and Adventures, Nov. 1971.


The Pulp Studies Area exists to support the academic study of pulp writers, editors, readers, and culture. It seeks to invigorate research by bringing together scholars from diverse areas including literary studies, history, folklore, film, comics, and more. Finally, the Pulp Studies area seeks to promote the preservation of the pulps through communication with libraries, museums, and collectors. With this in mind, we are calling for papers and panels that discuss the pulps and their legacy.


Possible authors and topics:

  • Magazines: Amazing StoriesWeird TalesWonder StoriesFight StoriesAll-StoryArgosyThrilling Wonder StoriesSpicy DetectiveRanch Romances and AdventuresOriental Stories/Magic Carpet MagazineLove StoryFlying AcesBlack Mask, and Unknown, to name a few.
    • Editors and Owners: Munsey (Argosy), Farnsworth Wright (Weird Tales), Hugo Gernsback (Amazing Stories), Mencken and Nathan (Black Mask), John Campbell (Astounding).
    • Influential Writers: H.P. Lovecraft, A. E. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, C. L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, Clark Ashton Smith, and Henry Kuttner. Proposals about contemporary writers in the pulp tradition, such as Joe Lansdale and Michael Chabon are also encouraged. “New Weird” writers and others, such as China Mieville, whose work is influenced by the pulps, are also of interest.
    • Influences on Pulp Writers: H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sax Rohmer, and Jack London, and Talbot Mundy were all influences, along with literary and philosophical figures such as Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edgar Allen Poe, and Herbert Spencer.
    • Popular Characters: Conan of Cimmeria; Doc Savage; Solomon Kane; Buck Rogers; Northwest Smith; The Domino Lady; Jiril of Joiry; Zorro; Kull of Atlantis; El Borak; The Shadow; The Spider; Bran Mak Morn; Nick Carter; The Avenger; and Captain Future, among others. Also character types: the femme fatale, the he-man, the trickster, racism and villainy, etc.
    • Artists: Popular artists including Margaret Brundage (Weird Tales), Frank R. Paul (Amazing Stories), Virgil Finlay (Weird Tales), and Edd Cartier (The ShadowAstounding).
    • Periods: The dime novels; Argosy and the ancestral pulps; Weird TalesAmazing Stories, and the heyday of the pulps; the decline of the pulps in the 50s and 60s; pulps in the age of the Internet.
    • Theme and Styles: Masculinity, femininity, and sexuality in the pulps; the savage as hero, the woman as hero, the trickster as hero, colonialism in the pulps, racism and “yellow peril,” Modernism in the pulps, etc.
    • Film and Television: Possible topics could include film interpretations such as Conan the Barbarian, pulp-inspired television such as Amazing Stories, and new work based in the “pulp aesthetic” such as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow or The Rocketeer.
  • Comics: Comic book incarnations of pulp magazines and series; “new weird” reinventions of the pulps such as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Watchmen; comic adaptations of old pulp series such as The ShadowThe SpiderDoc Savage and others.
  • Cyberculture: Cyberpulps such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies and pulp-influenced games such as the Age of Conan MMORPG or the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.

These are but suggestions for potential panels and presentations. Proposals on other topics are welcome. For general information on the Pulp Studies area, please visit our website: http://pulpstudies.weebly.com/

Area chairs