Day 2 at the PCA

Posted: April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Weird Menaces and Hard-Boiled Heroes

Rachel Tanner – University of Oregon: Pulpy Rhetoric: The Modern Sophism of Black Mask

  • The sophists and their connection to the pulp magazine, Black Mask.
  • Importance of the site of reading [highbrow is leaning forward; middlebrow is leading back]


Meta Regis – Stella Maris College: Spicy Horror: Sex and Magical Reversal in Weird Menace Pulp Fictions

  • Perversion as a specific reading strategy
  • “Satan Lives for My Love”–Uncanny Tales
  • “Terror is Cupid’s Mate”–Mystery Tales
  • “Fresh Fiances for the Devil’s Daughter”–Marvel Tales
  • Tensions of genital aesthetics

Weird Tales: The Unique Magazine

Nicole Emmelahinz – Case Western Reserve University: “What Subtle Torment the Black God’s Kiss Had Wrought Upon Him:” Gender
Performance as Strategic Advantage in American Sword and Sorcery

  • Sword and Sorcery as a feminist genre
  • Political ethos against patriarchy//thematically against sex and gender
  • Gender as performance is emphasized in sword and sorcery
  • Third gender aesthetic

Jason Carney – Case Western Reserve University: The Occult  Truth of Pulp

  • The poetics of pulp fiction
  • Contaminated realism
  • Pulp as the horizon of realism
  • How do we deal with excess?
  • Creation of a pulp canon

At the PCA

Posted: April 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

A quick update: After a successful American Horrors conference, Horror University is taking it on the road. We are at the Popular Culture Association conference in Chicago.

I am sitting in on the Pulp Studies sessions.

History, Horror, and the Heroic Fantasy of Robert E. Howard

Frank Coffman – Prof. of English and Journalism.Through a Glass Too Darkly: Conan Revealed as “The Bright Barbarian”

Rusty Burke – Robert E Howard Foundation. Night Falls on Asgard: Robert E. Howard’s Weltgeschichte

Imperial Pulp: Nationalism and Colonialism in Pulp Fiction

Barbara Barrett:  ‘Thou Africa’: An Analysis of Robert Howard’s Conflicting Views on Race in His Unpublished Poetry,which argues that Howard ultimately respected African culture in ways that are not always apparent in his other texts.

Jeffrey Shanks: From Jungle Lords to Planetary Pioneers: Ideologies and Anxieties of Colonialism in the Pulps

  • Explicit Colonialism
  • Implicit Colonialism  [Tarzan and the Ant-Men]
  • Analogous Colonialism

Elisa Edwards: “Too bad it’s in the Soviet Zone now”: Divided Germany and Pro-American Discourses in James McGovern’s Romance Novel Fräulein (1956)

  • Looks at the contradictions that  puncture the smooth propagandist surface of the novel and hints towards the discrepancy of the representations of U.S. reality

Pulp Pedagogy: Pulp Fiction in Education

Sean Quimby – Syracuse University. Orange Pulp: Collecting & Interpreting Pulp Magazines at Syracuse University

  • The collection history of Syracuse’s pulp library

Daniel Look – St. Lawrence University. The Cosmic Angle of Regarding: Mathematics and the Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft

  • Discussed the various uses of math in Lovecraft and how it can be used to teach these concepts to students.

Justin Everett – University of the Sciences. Teaching the Pulps: A Heuristic for Rhetorical Reading of Popular Fiction

  • The uses of rhetorical strategies in reconstructing the pulps, or “magazines for morons.”

Genre decides what form the pulp takes

American Horror from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Presenter: October Surprise, Independent scholar and rogue sociologist

Doc Savage magazine ran from 1933 until the late forties, almost concurrent with the rise and defeat of the Nazi Party and Fascism in Europe. Using Doc as a lens into the era, this presentation will explore popular sentiment that may have given rise to Fascism.

On the heels of the Great Crash in ’29, Doc comes into the pulp literary scene as a world adventurer, inventor, explorer, detective, surgeon, composer, righter of wrongs and doer of good, and of course – of superhuman mind, body and morality. He travels with his five assistants, all masters of their fields in science and law, but each yet inferior to Savage.

Using Doc Savage as a vehicle into the era prior to the Second World War, one can establish a baseline of culturally acceptable racism, eugenicism, sexism, American exceptionalism, imperialism and global industrial growth – the elemental contents of Fascism – in the minds of the popular reader of the period. As Doc was published essentially alongside the birth, life, and death of Nazi politic and Fascism, one can monitor the established baseline throughout the war.

A more meta-analysis casts Doc as an idealized manifestation of the Übermensch, and his fabulous five as the pillars of industry (law, sciences, and engineering). The Fabulous Five also serve in this capacity as an idealized post-class society within the Anglosphere. Thus cast, Doc is a sort of ideal “America” in character form: melting-pot forged Bronze, leading his fellow English-speaking paragons of capitalism across the globe to distribute the ends of his superior, Bronze, morality.

American Horror from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Presenter: Marcello Ricciardi, St. Joseph’s College

Both Milton and Lovecraft speak of nightly dream visitations that lead them to other realms, Milton, inspired by the Holy Spirit, “wander[s] where the Muses haunt/ Clear Spring, or shady Grove” and Lovecraft, afflicted with sleep paralysis, speaks of the dreaded coming of the Night-Gaunts.

Each is receptive to visions, holy and unholy, but Lovecraft’s Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath bears remarkable similarities to Milton’s Paradise Lost, primarily in the role of poet hero.

Just as Milton’s prologues in Paradise Lost are autobiographical in nature, revealing the interiority of his poetical self, so too does Lovecraft, under the guise of Randolph Carter, chart a forbidden journey into realms of both light and darkness, akin in many ways to Milton’s ascent and descent into Heaven and Hell.

The Dream Quest is Lovecraft’s most heroic work, in which heroic resistance against the forces of darkness and a yearning for spiritual enlightenment leads to self- transcendence. It is also his most religious work, despite Lovecraft’s avowed atheism, conveying a Miltonic sense of the sacred and the profane, the numinous and the blasphemous.

In most of Lovecraft’s other tales, the protagonist is cerebral and ineffective, overwhelmed by the chaotic forces that consume him. But here, Carter’s steadfastness, fortitude, and perseverance can only be described as Miltonic—an active not passive opposition to malevolent menaces. Both Milton and Lovecraft adeptly fulfill their roles as cosmic voyagers.

American Horror from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Presenter:  Robert Lipscomb, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

In 1990, Clive Barker adapted his 1988 novel Cabal into the film Nightbreed. Though not well received at the time of its release, both the film and the book represent a significant response to much of the pro-capitalist messaging of the 1980s. Read the rest of this entry »

American Horror from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Presenter: Professor Marshall Highet, College of St. Joseph

Gothic romance has certain defining aspects: the past intruding on the present; domestic spaces that become tombs and cages; females losing their sanity and characters subjected to extreme emotional states; a charming male character who can, at the same time, repulse and rescue the main female protagonist; doubles, doppelgangers, and mirrors. Read the rest of this entry »

American Horror from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Presenters: Dr. Daniel M Look, St. Lawrence University and Dr. Jonas Prida, College of St. Joseph

This presentation explores the complex systemic nature of horror texts, both in relation to other horrific productions and to the larger circulating cultural and scientific forces. Read the rest of this entry »

As part of its monthly film series, the College of St. Joseph is showing François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966), adapted from Ray Bradbury’s 1951 novel of the same name.  Set in a society that has banned reading, 451 follows Guy Montag, a fireman [as in one who burns books] who begins to question the system promoting illiteracy. The film’s prescience concerning the rise of visual culture and screen time at the expense of traditional reading is often commented on, but it still remains a powerful critique of governmental power and the coercive state.

The screening is Friday, Feb 21 at 7:00 in Tuttle Hall. The film is free and open to all students and the public.

Fahrenheit 451 Movie Poster

H.P. Lovecraft Factoids

Posted: February 13, 2014 in Literature
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I recently submitted an entry for the American Writers Series on American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. As part of the research, I read S.T. Joshi’s magisterial biography I am Providence, which included all kinds of minutia about Lovecraft. Some examples: Read the rest of this entry »

Robert E. Howard is best known for Conan the Barbarian, the sword-wielding Cimmerian who assaults the various kingdoms of the Hyborean world.  But Howard, like most writers in the 1920s and 1930s, wrote a wide range of texts, including weird fiction. Although there are certainly unearthly elements in Conan, another of Howard’s reoccurring characters, Solomon Kane, trafficked in the occult [although Kane would never admit it], and the horrific plays an important role in many Howard tales. His “The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux” [first published in an April 1929 issue of Ghost Stories] is an excellent example of how Howard incorporated his usual two-fisted protagonists with the beyond. Read the rest of this entry »