PCA/ACA

Pulp Studies

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Call for papers: 

Pulp magazines were a series of mostly English-language, predominantly American, magazines printed on rough pulp paper. They were often illustrated with highly stylized, full-page cover art and numerous line art illustrations of the fictional content. They were sold at a price the working man could afford, though they popular with all classes, including president Woodrow Wilson. The earlier magazines, such as All-Story, were general fiction magazines, though later they diversified and helped solidify many of the genres we are familiar with today, including western, detective, science fiction, fantasy, 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.

With this in mind, we are calling for presentations for the 2019 PCA/ACA Conference that discuss the pulps and their legacy. Suggested topics:

  • Magazines:  Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Wonder Stories, Fight Stories, All-Story, Argosy, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Spicy Detective, Ranch Romances and Adventures, Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet Magazine, Love Story, Flying Aces, Black Mask, and Unknown, to name a few.
  • Editors and Owners:  Street and Smith (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, C. L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, 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.
  • Influences on Pulp Writers:  Robert Bloch, H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London, and Edgar Rice Burroughs 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:  Tarzan, Conan of Cimmeria; Doc Savage; Buck Rogers; Northwest Smith; The Domino Lady; Zorro; El Borak; The Shadow; The Spider; Nick Carter; The Avenger; and Captain Future, among others. 
  •  Artists:  Popular cover artists including Margaret Brundage (Weird Tales), Frank R. Paul (Amazing Stories), Virgil Finlay (Weird Tales), and Edd Cartier (The Shadow, Astounding). Also later artists who popularized the pulps in paperback reprints, such as Frank Frazetta.
  • Periods:  The dime novels; Argosy and the early pulps; Weird TalesAmazing Stories, and the heyday of the pulps; the decline of the pulps in the 50s and 60s; the evolution of comics; pulp-aesthetic comics (Athena Voltaire).
  • Theme and Styles:  Eugenics, masculinity/femininity, race, the savage, femme fatale, “yellow peril,” etc.
  • Film, Television:  Pulps in film, television, comics, graphic novels and other forms are especially encouraged.  Possible topics could include film interpretations such as Conan the Barbarian, The Shadow, Doc Savage, reinventions of the pulps such as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  • The Pulps in Contemporary Culture:  How has the “pulp aesthetic” endured in popular culture through comics, television, film, RPGs, and more? In the age of #metoo and the resurgence of racism, how should pulp scholarship address sexism, racism, and classism present in the pulps? What are the enduring archetypes of the pulps (masked man of mystery, the noble savage, the working-class detective, the heroic aviator, etc.) endured and been reinvented by contemporary popular culture? What are the defining features of the “pulp aesthetic,” and what does it owe to the gothic and dime novels for its origin?

 

 

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