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Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System
John Rieder

2017 • 224 pp. 2 illus. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - Science Fiction / Literary Criticism / Literary Criticism - 20th Century

$22.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7716-0
$75.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7715-3

$18.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7717-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

A fresh approach to the history and shape of science fiction

In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre fiction comprise a system of genres entirely distinct from the pre-existing classical and academic genre system that includes the epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, romance, the lyric, and so on. He proposes that the field of literary production and the project of literary studies cannot be adequately conceptualized without taking into account the tensions between these two genre systems that arise from their different modes of production, distribution, and reception. Although the careful reading of individual texts forms an important part of this study, the systemic approach offered by Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System provides a fundamental challenge to literary methodologies that foreground individual innovation.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Rieder is always a lucid and engaging writer, and this book is no exception.”—Mark Bould, University of the West of England, Bristol

“John Rieder’s Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System offers a fascinating new perspective on this much defined genre. Rieder compelling argues that we can understand this genre only by examining it within the larger context of the separate but entwined classical and mass genre systems. Focusing less on what science fiction “is” and instead of what drives communities of readers to collect a set of texts under this label, Rieder offers lucid and original insight not only into the genre’s history but more importantly into its future. What are the politics of a moment that, on the one hand, sees the genre dispersing into contemporary culture overall as a set of techniques used by many writers while, on the other hand, fraught ideological battles are fought over the Hugo awards and who might rightfully claim to represent this field of publication? How can we reconcile science fiction’s utopian impulses with its inevitable complicity with the capitalist relations of the mass cultural genre system? Rieder’s eloquent book powerfully shows us the consequential cultural work “we” do when we make and remake the many science fiction canons.” —Sherryl Vint, University of California, Riverside

“Written with all the brilliance, clarity and insightfulness of Rieder’s earlier work, this book has vitally important lessons to teach concerning not only the institutional history of science fiction, but of mass cultural production and reception more generally.” —Phillip E. Wegner, University of Florida

“With this volume, Rieder reinforces his position as one of the most interesting and perceptive science-fiction critics at work today. No one seriously interested in the genre—and especially in the relation of science fiction to the whole category of genre—can afford to miss it.”—Carl Freedman, author of Critical Theory and Science Fiction

JOHN RIEDER is professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i at M noa. Although he has published work on English Romanticism, and on the professionalization of literary studies, for the last fifteen years he has focused his research agenda on science fiction, contributing essays to Extrapolation, Science Fiction Studies, Science Fiction Film and Television, Paradoxa, and other venues. His book on early science fiction, Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2008. He currently serves as a coeditor of Extrapolation.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:49:09 -0500