The M.Phil Popular Literature core course is a year-long compulsory module, which meets twice weekly for two-hour seminars. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the historical development of popular and genre fiction from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

**Please note that the syllabus is subject to minor modification each year. This outline is for illustrative purposes.**

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Week 1: What is Popular Literature?

Tues: Defining Popular Literature; What we do on the M. Phil in Popular Literature (Dr Jarlath Killeen, JK)

Thurs: Introducing academic and critical attitudes towards Popular Literature (JK)


Week 2: Introducing Popular GenresAdventures_of_sherlock_holmes

Tues: Introducing Genre (Dr Clare Clarke, CC)

Thurs: Genre Case Study: classical detective fiction

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter.” (CC)



Week 3: The Origins of Popular Literature


Tues: Eighteenth-Century Chapbooks (Prof Aileen Douglas)

• Sir Bevis of Southampton

• The History of the Seven Champions of Christendom

• John Simons, ‘Chapbooks and Penny Histories’, in A Companion to Romance ed. Corinne Saunders (Blackwell, 2004)

Thurs: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (JK)


Week 4: Non Fiction Popular Literature22660

Tues: Serial Killer True Crime (Dr Bernice M Murphy, BM)

Selected short excerpts from True-Crime books about Serial Killers

Thurs: Misery Memoirs:

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer (JK)



fifty shades of grey

Week 5: Popular Taste


The String of Pearls: A Romance by Anonymous (JK)


Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (JK)



Week 6: Middlebrow and Melodramabloggerrebecca

Tues: Middlebrow Fiction:

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Prof Eve Patten)

Thurs: Melodrama (BM):

• Pauline E. Hopkins, ‘Talma Gordon’ (1900) and ‘The Test of Manhood, A Christmas Story’ (1906) (on Blackboard)

• Fannie Hurst, ‘T.B.’ (1915) and ‘Sob Sister’ (1916) (on Blackboard)


Week 7: Study Week NO CLASSES



Week 8: The Serial

Tues: The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (JK)

Thurs: Sensation fiction (CC)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins




Week 9: Popular Romance and Chick-Litps i love you book

Tues: The Popular Romance (JK):

• Nora Roberts, Untamed;

Carolina Moon; Hidden Riches

Thurs: Chick-Lit (JK):

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahearn

The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Jemima J. by Jane Green.



Week 10: Magazines and Periodicalsdownload (9)


Victorian Periodicals (CC)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle


American 20th Century Pulp Magazines (CC)


Week 11: Victorian and Christmas Ghosts51et3I-BcqL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_

Tues: Victorian Ghost Stories (CC)

• Charlotte Riddell, Weird Stories (1882)


A Popular Christmas (JK)

Essential Reading will be posted on Blackboard.


Week 12: Exploring Critical Approaches To Popular Literature: Group Presentations.

Tues: Student Group Presentations

Thurs: No Class.



Week 1: The Western and AdventureShane-paperback-cov

Tues: The Western (Prof Stephen Matterson)

Shane by Joe Schafer

Hondo by Louis L’Amour

Thurs: Imperial Adventure (CC)

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard



 rosemarys-babyWeek 2: Horror

Tues: Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

(Dr Bernice Murphy, BM)


World War Z by Max Brooks (BM)



Week 3: New and Emerging Genres 51HgBRRNclL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Tues: Domestic Noir:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (CC)

Thurs: Urban Fantasy:

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (BM)




download (8)Week 4: Science Fiction

Tues: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (BM)

Thurs: New Wave Science Fiction (BM)

• Philip K. Dick, ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’ (1966)

• Samuel R. Delany, ‘Aye, and Gomorrah…’ (1967)

• Ursula Le Guin, ‘Vaster Than Empires and More Slow’


Week 5: The Bestseller/The Author as Celebritys-l300


The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (BM)


A Bid for Fortune by Guy Boothby (Dr Ailise Bulfin)



Mort-coverWeek 6: Fantasy

Tues: Mort by Terry Pratchett (Dr Gerard Hynes, GH)

Thurs: Uprooted by Naomi Novik (GH)





Week 7: Study Week NO CLASSES



Week 8: British and American Detective Fiction

Tues: Golden Age British Detective Fiction (CC)

 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Thurs: American Hard-Boiled Fiction and the Private-Eye:

Farewell my Lovely by Raymond Chandler (CC) (on Blackboard)



220px-FunhomecoverWeek 9:

Comic Books

and Graphic Novels

Tues: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Dr Kate Roddy, KR)

Thurs: All Star-Superman by Grant Morrison (KR)






Week 10: Global Popular Literature

Tues: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (BM)

Thurs: Scandi-Noir (CC)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson



Week 11: Thrillersspy-who

Tues: The Spy Thriller:

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carré (CC)

Thurs: The Serial Killer Thriller:

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (CC)




Week 12: The Future of Popular Literature

Tues: Amazon, E-Readers and Electronic Publishing (BM)

Thurs: The “Genrefication” Debate (BM)